Research Area

Networks of Conflict, Antagonism and Violence

A persons arm pushed up against riot shields with police behind them.

We research the role of violence in social and political behaviour

Our research combines formal generative models of individual networks and group conflict as well as empirical data on networks, individuals, and conflict events including data armed attacks and hate crime.

Ethnicity – the extent to which an individual  identifies with one or more particular ethnic groups – and racial identity affects all spheres of social life of individuals, including socioeconomic outcomes and in and out-group relationships.  We research the role of violent social and political behaviour and how these ethnic and racial identities evolve and interact in adolescence.

There is a large existing literature on how ethnic identities and their social and political position is related to different forms of violence. However, most of this research adapts a macro-focus with groups as actors and takes the observed identities as well as group attributes and relations as predetermined and sometime immutable. This approach fails to explain shifts to active conflict in cases such as the former Yugoslavia and Syria, where individuals of different identities had coexisted peacefully for long periods. We propose to use a micro-level approach to the individual-level relations underlying group affiliations, relations and conflict events. We aim to model how differences in network structure and expectations give rise to waves of prejudice, antagonism, and violence, based on processes such as contact and trust, polarisation and distrust, contracts and institutions, and excitation. Formally, we will consider a multi-layer network, where each layer represents a driving mechanism. This will allow evaluating the changes in a network (geo-politics) as well as the inter-dependencies between network layers (expectations or national affinity) and possibly explaining emerging new behaviour.

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Chair of Research Area Professor Kristian Gleditsch
Department of Economics, University of Essex
Departmental Director of Research Dr Rosella Argenziano
Department of Economics, University of Essex