Even in some of the world’s most hostile conflicts, where great violence has been inflicted, those involved have to try to live along-side one another in peace.
What makes compromise easier in some settings than in others, and amongst certain sorts of victim?
This is the subject of new £1.26million research project by a team from the University of Aberdeen.
The Leverhulme Trust has awarded the grant to a research team led by Professor John Brewer and Professor Bernadette C Hayes, from the Department of Sociology. The money is to be used across six linked projects over a five-year period.
It is hoped that a greater understanding of the way in which compromise is reached could assist in the future resolution of tensions, whether it be on the international stage or within a workplace or neighbourhood.
They will take as their starting point three of the most serious global conflicts, in Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
They will be interviewing victims, meeting victim groups, undertaking surveys and exploring wider community attitudes towards compromise and reconciliation. The team will be working with local colleagues in these arenas of conflict and undertaking parallel studies in each.
Researchers will also consider more historical case studies, such as the USA after its civil war, Germany in the aftermath of Nazism, Spain in the wake of Franco’s regime and Lebanon following its civil war.
Professor Brewer said: “Compromise is the same in all settings but is thrown into higher relief in situations of communal conflict.
“We hope to establish commonalities in how compromise is reached following conflict, which can be applied to a range of scenarios – from civil war to workplace disputes, politically motivated violence to family disputes.
“This is an ambitious programme of related projects and is consistent with The Leverhulme Trust’s commitment to fund socially relevant and engaged research.
“We share the Trust’s view that research should make a difference to people’s lives and the Aberdeen team intent to ensure that this programme becomes part of its own subject matter by assisting people in the development of feelings of compromise.”
Professor Hayes said: “We are interested in how people reach compromise and want to understand more about the mechanism by which agreement is reached.
“To understand this, we will look at more extreme cases, like those who have been the victims of violence, and how they negotiate compromise.
“We intend to ensure that our results as disseminated back to victims in various forms of public writing and in a series of television and radio programmes.”