An Ontology of Peace: Landscapes of Conflict and Cooperation with Application to Colombia

  • Citation: Campbell, Susanna P., Michael G. Findley, and Kyosuke Kikuta. “An Ontology of Peace: Landscapes of Conflict and Cooperation with Application to Colombia.” International Studies Review 19.1 (2011):92-113.
    • Topics:
    • Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
    • Keywords:
    • military battles
    • conflict-mitigating institutions
    • peace conceptualizations

International relations scholarship on intrastate peace and conflict largely conceptualizes peace as an absence of war and, to some extent, the presence of a minimal degree of democracy. Empirically, scholars treat peace as a non-event, identifying it as the absence of military battles rather than (or in addition to) the presence of conflict-mitigating institutions or activities. This approach hearkens back to a bygone debate about negative and positive peace, and illustrates that negative peace conceptualizations dominate existing scholarship. In this article, we unpack the conceptual foundations of peace to account more fully for cooperation, rather than just violent conflict. We then operationalize this expanded conceptualization of peace through a latent variable measurement approach that carefully aggregates both conflict and cooperation events. We ground the measurement model in data from Colombia for the period of 1993 to 2012. In so doing, we present a new, empirically grounded ontology of peace that we expect could be useful for causal theorizing and testing in other work.

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