I noticed some reader searching 'Conflict' on ERPZ already! It's the Task 2 of the PW question this year and seeing my entry on 'Risk', you naturally think I've prepared something for conflict as well. Well, perhaps. I'm laying down the guidelines for 'Conflict' in this entry.
As usually, the two PW question themes for each year are quite closely related and I remember when I was working on mine - the project we've chosen is so versatile it actually fits both of the themes and we had to decide which one it matches more nicely. That sometimes have to do with reading the requirements of the question carefully. In this case, 'Risk' requires you to provide a guideline for risk-taking while 'Conflict' requires a guideline for resolution.
I personally find this more tricky than 'Risk' because conflicts may sometimes be resolved not because of any external force or a specific path that any party takes. It can be resolved by the changing nature of the conflict, the balance of power of the two parties in the conflict. In my studies of the Cold War, that's exactly how it worked out. There was a gradual but steady shift in the dynamics of the conflict as it progressed. The periods of Détente may not have done as much to end the Cold war as the exhaustion of Soviet Union's ability to sustain growth.
This project asks you to show how an understanding of conflicts may be of help in resolving conflicts in the future.
Identify one conflict (in politics, education, human interaction, etc.).
Explain its main causes and analyse the positive and negative effects which resulted.
Suggest how lessons learned might help resolve fututre conflicts.
Once again, there is a whole load of cases and examples out there for conflicts and their resolution (and also conflicts that dragged for ages and fail to be resolved; eg. Arab-Israeli) so just take your pick and then try and analyse them carefully. Think about some of these points:
- Analyse the conflict by classifying the factors contributing it (you can follow the political scientists method of arranging them into 'agency', 'structure' or 'idea' factors).
- Examine the agenda and intentions of each sides of the conflict. Question their interest in the continuation of the conflict.
- Investigate the trend in the unfolding of the conflict; did it escalate at any point; is there a climax; at each stage, what might be the key to the turn of events (use counterfactual reasoning).
- What are the effects of the conflict on other parties/stakeholders? Did it help push them to take action to resolve or fuel the conflict?
- What are the aspects of the conflict that each side controlled and how did this impact on the eventual resolution?
- Once again, combine these parts to obtain a mindmap linking all these ideas and then identify the key characteristics of the conflict, then carefully select the actions that might have led to resolution. It might be important to identify the sort of conflict that your guidelines can resolve because I believe that it cannot be generalised to all conflicts. If you want to come up with a truly general guideline, it'd be so abstract that people have no idea how to execute it; it's going to be just 'common sense' that add nothing to our knowledge.
Like the previous PW guidance, comments are welcomed though students should not expect me to be guiding them on their specific projects.