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Centre for Identity, Cooperation and Crisis

Identity, Cooperation and Crisis are the key elements inclusive to a wide spectrum of exigent social problems and questions. In order to provide answers to these questions, our research centre blends knowledge from political science, philosophy, history, and economics. Following the conviction that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, we believe that contemporary social issues can only be adequately and satisfactorily analysed, understood and addressed in a trans-disciplinary manner. With new perspectives and approaches, we provide innovative solutions to the most essential issues mankind is presently facing.


Our research encompasses the following sub-themes:

Well-being and happiness

Abstract: The concept of wellbeing is widely used as a measure of societal progress, in addition to conventional methods that are based on economic activity. Subjective well-being is an indicator that can be used to measure the happiness of nations and inform various social and economic policy decisions. The aim of our research is to contribute to the identification of personal, economic and societal determinants of subjective well-being.

Democracy and its Discontents

Abstract: The idea that democracy is a firm route to peace and stability domestically and internationally is held by a number of scholars to be an iron law of political science. Democracy, it is said, secures consensus,  fosters economic growth, empowers citizens and civil society, provides checks on, and alternatives to, arbitrary and autocratic rule and the state propensity for war. However, scholarship from diverse schools of thought indicates that the record of democracy and democratisation is more complex. Processes of democratisation in new and transitional democracies have fuelled political violence and contributed to exclusivist-nationalist and even genocidal dynamics. It is also clear that democracy has been a pivotal process in the rise of right wing populism with authoritarian tendencies across many long-established western liberal democracies, with disillusionment with elitist democracy often claimed as a central grievance in these dynamics. Democracy also faces a range of other and sometimes overlapping challenges, including the intensification and expansion of forms of securitisation and surveillance in the wake of the global war on terror and the increasing tendency for the suspension of democratic checks and balances, paradoxically justified as necessary for the very defence of liberal democracy. As a result, critics argue, the tendency for the logic of crisis, exception and emergency to become the rule is undermining democratic values, procedures and practices. For all these reasons, the focus on the discontents generated by or associated with the contemporary state of liberal democracy is therefore of central concern to scholars and policy makers alike.

Roads to Cooperation

Abstract: The ability to cooperate has been vital to human survival. Yet, the reasons for cooperation of large groups still remain a topic of debate. As groups become larger, enforcement of cooperation becomes increasingly difficult and the cost of free-riding lower. Nevertheless, we are still intrinsically compelled to collaborate and cooperate, and thus reasons for cooperation must go beyond individual benefit and peer pressure. We study different forms of cooperation, and the strategies and policies which foster human cooperation.

Coordination and Coordination Failure

Abstract: In the absence of any centralised decision-maker and complete knowledge, it is essential to understand the mechanism that allow individuals to coordinate. Institutions, like the Smithian invisible hand, guide individual actions to serve a common good. However, this is frequently not the case. Coordination failures, such as tragedies of the commons, lead to low economic performance, social and political conflict and consequently, to poverty traps. We do not only study how institutions evolve, but also how these institutions can be shaped to improve coordination and thereby increase social welfare and efficiency.

Transmission of Knowledge

Abstract: Knowledge is important to us: we rely on it in order to act effectively, and achieve what we set out to accomplish. Yet much of what we know derives from others. What are the conditions that must be in place for knowledge transmission to occur? In simple cases a speaker addresses a hearer, telling him what she knows; and he trusts her, accepting what she tells him. Yet many of the social interactions through which we acquire information are considerably more complex: we read something in a newspaper article, written by someone we do not know, and fact checked by someone not even mentioned; we find the article linked on social media by an acquaintance, or a friend; perhaps we click the link because the headline suggests confirmation of our prior opinions. Our research investigates the structures that sustain, and those that undermine, the transmission of knowledge within and across societies.

Social Orders

Abstract: The study of social order involves a challenge to the post-Cold War hegemonic ascendancy of excessively economistic, rationalist and individualist-guided methodologies in the social sciences. It stresses the need for a counter-swing against the current ‘retreat of the social’ as acknowledged by a host of sub-disciplinary approaches including historical and political sociology and social and political anthropology. Key to the research focus in this field is the need to understand the fields of human action, existence, behaviour and practices and the way these intersect with socio-political, economic and cultural dynamics through a stress on the historically formed social logic of collectivities and the way that these logics construct and inform diverse assemblages and flows of global, transnational, regional and local power, both hegemonic and counter-hegemonic in thrust. This includes the study of forms of liberal, regional, nationalist and other local forms of social order, stressing the co-constitutive and yet alternately cooperative and conflictual nature of their intersections and relations.

Identity

Abstract: Identity is increasingly understood as heterogeneous, multi-layered, relational and characterised by intersectional facets including gender, nationhood, ethnicity, religion, race, class, generation and sexuality. These facets of identity and difference evidently have profound political, social, economic, cultural and philosophical significance in a myriad of areas including access to citizenship, a diverse range of public goods, our sense of being, belonging, status and recognition and the freedom to engage a range of collective and individual values, beliefs and practices. Although, these facets of identity are key sources of social order and of the self, which have underpinned the desire and need  to recognize and respect multiculturalism and difference, identity has also acted as a site of domination, exclusion, marginalization, ‘othering’, conflict and resistance. These conflicts frequently result from the impact of identity hierarchies created by past and present global, hemispheric, regional, national and local intersections between and within, inter alia, diverse capitalist, imperial, colonial, statist, nationalist and patriarchal social orders and the myriad forms of subaltern resistance that have followed in their wake. CICC members seek to explore these dynamics from diverse scholarly perspectives and across a diverse range of contexts including, for instance, gender struggles, movements for secession and autonomy, sectarian, nationalist and ethnic conflicts and the study of multiculturalism.

War, Peace and Violence

Abstract: As generations of scholars have long acknowledged war has differentially destructive as well as generative effects on a whole range of socio-political, economic and cultural dynamics. The New Wars, Economic Agendas and rationalist schools have tended to stress the state disintegrative and destructive effects of war, its propensity for atrocity, civilian targeting and widespread and strategic displacement, gendered violence, the greed dynamics of elites and the creation of privatised shadow economies that perpetuate war. An older generation of realist and sociological approaches combined with a relatively novel critique of the New Wars approach have stressed that war has been a key structural dynamic to state formation and has even produced contexts impacting positively upon the gender and class demands for rights and equality in suffrage and employment. The quest for peace through forms of liberal peacebuilding and conflict resolution has also produced differential effects in spite of its essentially pacifistic intent, including forms of very coercive intervention and violent outcomes. CICC scholars who work in this area therefore seek to navigate the paradoxes inherent in the study of war and peace and to interrogate the implication of these paradoxes for the conceptual understanding of war, peace and violence, issues that are critical to breakthroughs in frameworks of humanitarian action, development, conflict resolution and peacebuilding.