Book Review: Conflict Management in Divided Societies: Theories and Practice

Conflict management in Divided Societies: Theories and Practice is an innovative book that gives a multi-perspective view of conflict management in divided societies in three parts and fourteen chapters.



Some authors of this edited volume have an academic background while other contributors have had extensive experience in dealing with conflict; thus, the book effectively covers a wide range of issues. Moreover, the case study technique is used in a very intelligent manner. Although only five cases have been examined in detail, these have been complemented with the use of other cases as appropriate, to facilitate understanding of the practical implications of the different theories discussed and the outcomes of the different processes and activities of the actors considered in the other parts. The comparative method is also used but only to the extent that it helps clarify the lessons the case studies convey.

This book is in three distinctive parts that deal with the following issues. Part I consists of three chapters that discuss theories related to the topic. In Chapter 1, Wolff discusses consociational theory to which he attributes two main dimensions of institutional design: power sharing and territorial self-governance. In the following chapter, Reilly considers the theory of centripetalism that favors electoral systems that give more chances to parties with a cross-ethnic appeal. Chapter 3 by Roeder examines power dividing or the multiple-majorities approach. This theory is based on the idea that where power is concentrated on too few sets of hands, it is difficult to manage conflict in divided societies.

Part II comprises six chapters that look at a number of measures and actors that pursue managing the conflicts within ‘divided societies.’ In chapter 4, Zartman discusses the developments that have led to the increased role of diplomacy in conflict management. In chapter 5, Collins examines the role of quiet diplomacy, especially its importance in situations where official diplomacy is less likely to work.


*Published in Journal of Conflict Transformation & Security (JCTS) Vol. 2 | No. 1
© Copyright 2012 by CESRAN
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