How do people analyse conflict?
This chapter identifies the main narratives which have been used to explain conflict in the developing world. It outlines a number of different ways in which analysts have looked at conflict, but clearly, it cannot be entirely comprehensive. The chapter examines differing explanations for conflict and look at the underpinnings of some of the labels applied to violence in the developing world, such as ethnic conflict, irrational violence and resource war. Analyses which emerged during the Cold War often drew on anthropological perspectives, or frameworks dominated by colonial perceptions of developing countries as backward and pre-modern/traditional, in explaining the civil wars and rebellion that occurred after decolonisation. The data are extremely confusing in terms of providing a clear picture of the relationship between ethnicity and conflict. The structural violence thesis provides an explanation for this, based on seeing ethnicity as one factor within a broader set of issues that are part of social, economic and political structures.