The Ideological Conflict Project: Theoretical and Methodological Foundations

CIGI Papers No. 74

July 9, 2015

Ideology is important to conflict. Shared beliefs create a sense of group identity, specify targets of hostility and enable coordinated action. Understanding ideology is key to effective conflict resolution and management. But, up to now, it has been poorly understood. It is presumed to be something abstract or irrational, and best disregarded in the search for concrete explanations and solutions.

Using complexity theory, we can account for the multiplicity of processes that combine to generate ideologies. At the same time, any effort to understand human behaviour must take into consideration the peculiar properties of the human mind, and so engage with cognitive science. Combining these approaches, the authors have developed two methods that can be applied toward clarifying the role of ideology in conflict situations: Cognitive-Affective Mapping and Ideological State Space. These methods have been developed into a powerful set of analytical tools that researchers and practitioners can use to understand, manage and resolve conflict.

Part of Series

CIGI Papers Series

CIGI Papers present in-depth analysis and discussion on governance-related subjects. They include policy papers that present CIGI experts' positions or contributions to policy debates, and background papers that contain research findings, insights and data that contribute to the development of policy positions.

About the Authors

Co-lead researcher of the Ideational Conflict project, Steven's research is focused on developing theory and methodology for modeling the myths, symbols and rituals associated with the constructs of national and other forms of political-cultural identity, further to understanding the impact of these constructs on conflict and conflict resolution.