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Abstract
An intensive debate on the possible implications of climate change for peace and conflict has
been taking place in the scholarly and political community for several years. It is widely accepted
that a possible link between climate change and violent conflict is strongly dependent on social,
political and economic context factors (or scope conditions), while an influence of climate change
on inter-state violent conflict is regarded as unlikely. But beyond this, there is little consensus in
the research field of climate change and violent conflict. This dissertation advances the debate on
a potential climate-conflict nexus within states (or in spaces characterized by limited statehood)
by focusing on the scarcity of renewable, natural resources and the associated socioenvironmental conflict and cooperation dynamics. More specifically, this dissertation aims to
make a twofold contribution.
Firstly, there are so far only very few reflections on the methods used to investigate possible links
between climate change and violent conflict. Quantitative, large-N regression analysis is the
dominant method in the research field, while qualitative, single case studies are also widely used.
Both methods can be (and have been) used to generate valuable insights, but also suffer from
serious shortcomings, especially when investigating the possible links between climate change and
violent conflict. Therefore, the three methods Geographic Information System (GIS)-based risk
analysis, Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and discourse analysis are introduced and
empirically applied to analyze the links between climate change, resource scarcity, conflict,
violence and cooperation. All three methods are well-established in geography and peace and
conflict studies and seem promising for investigating a potential climate-conflict nexus, but have
hardly or not at all been used in the research field so far. After empirically applying these
methods, they are compared to each other as well as to the widely used methods of regression
analysis and case study. By doing so, this dissertation aims at evaluating the suitability as well as
the specific advantadges and deficits of the different methods in the research on climate change
and violent conflict
Secondly, whilst empirically applying all three methods in various contexts, this dissertation also
aims to make a substantive contribution to the research on climate change and violent conflict
with a particular focus on three partially overlapping questions: a) How can one conceptualize
and explain the transition from non-violent to violent socio-environmental conflicts, but also to
cooperation? b) Which context factors raise (or reduce) the risk that climate change-induced
stress in natural and social systems stimulates violent conflict? c) How can non-material factors –
such as perceptions, identities, narratives or discourses – be included in the research on climate
change and violent conflict and what is the analytical value added by them?
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