This article reviews the debate on broader and narrower conceptions of peace and investigates empirical patterns in the first 49 volumes of Journal of Peace Research, with some comparisons with Journal of Conflict Resolution.
The concept of peace has been under discussion in peace research from its start over 50 years ago. This article reviews the debate on broader and narrower conceptions of peace and investigates empirical patterns in the first 49 volumes of Journal of Peace Research, with some comparisons with Journal of Conflict Resolution. Negative peace, in the sense of reducing war, was the main focus in peace research from the inception. But positive peace, in the sense of cooperation or integration, has also always been on the peace research agenda, as reflected in the contents of both journals. Over time, a larger share of the articles in JPR has ‘violence’ or related terms in the title, while the incidence of the word ‘peace’ is fairly stable. Furthermore, articles on peace generally have fewer citations than those with violence-related terms. A broad concept of peace, as encouraged by the definition of positive peace as the reversal of structural violence, was popular in peace research for a decade or so, but has largely evaporated. To some extent, peace research has returned to its original agenda, although the main attention has shifted from interstate war to civil war and to some extent to one-sided and non-state violence. Articles dealing with patterns of cooperation, the traditional meaning of positive peace, now tend to address the liberal agenda and ask how they can foster a reduced probability of violence. Despite the ‘gender gap’, the increasing share of female authors in the journal appears to have had little influence on these developments although it may well have had other effects.