From a historical perspective, there would have been many reasons why peace research was developing in Germany as early as the 1950s: A country divided by World War II on the geographical front of the Cold War and with clear anti-militarist protests as early as the 1950s were undoubtedly supportive ... (Show more)
From a historical perspective, there would have been many reasons why peace research was developing in Germany as early as the 1950s: A country divided by World War II on the geographical front of the Cold War and with clear anti-militarist protests as early as the 1950s were undoubtedly supportive contexts for the development of peace and conflict studies. But in the areas of tension between political expectations and scientific requirements, it was a difficult and laborious process to establish the research field of peace and conflict studies in West Germany in the post-war era. This process is to be reconstructed from a social science and, in particular, from a science-sociological perspective.
To reconstruct this development, the areas of tension between science and politics is considered in four dimensions that are particularly relevant for peace and conflict studies:
• Basic research or political practice-oriented research?
• Is "peace" a political or a scientific task?
• Are scientific concepts of peace suitable for socio-political discourse?
• What distinguishes science from politics when it comes to questions of peace?
In every stage of development of this politicized field of research in West Germany, changes in these dimensions can be seen. The multiple changes in the areas of tension between science and politics characterizes the specific development of peace and conflict studies in West Germany, which can be divided against this background in five stages of development.
While the first stage of development was dominated by scientific criticism of political decisions and developments (1960s), in the second stage politics influenced the development of the research field through financial support (German Society for Peace and Conflict Research, 1971-1983). In the third stage of development (1980s), the establishment of peace and conflict studies was shaped by a very pointed security policy-debate in the public and the unavoidable political positioning of political scientists. Only the end of the East-West conflict with many new research-problems and questions for peace and conflict studies opened up the space for more theory-oriented research efforts, epistemological debates and interdisciplinary cooperation without giving up the practice-oriented approach.
In Germany today, the political-normative orientation towards peace, interdisciplinary research and the practice-oriented approach are considered essential characteristics of modern peace and conflict studies. As such, since 2000 it has again received specific financial support from the state. This has also enabled peace and conflict studies to not only establish itself at research-institutes, but also to anchor it at numerous universities and to develop corresponding study programs. This has given rise to new generations of peace and conflict researchers in recent years.
With its institutionalization at universities, scientific journals, study programs, textbooks and special financial support, peace and conflict studies in Germany has to a large extent followed the classic path of scientific discipline development, but without giving up its political, practice-oriented and interdisciplinary claims. Much more, these claims lead to a special openness to meta-theoretical and methodological innovations, for example in connection with constructivist, intersectional, post-colonial or participatory approaches. They can be understood as scientific efforts to continue to work on the areas of tension between science and politics and at the same time to reflect on them (self-)critically.
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• Weller, Christoph 2017: Friedens- und Konfliktforschung - Herausforderung für die Internationalen Beziehungen? In: Frank Sauer/ Carlo Masala (Hrsg.): Handbuch Internationale Beziehungen, Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 551-572.
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