Isabel Bramsen successfully defends her Ph.D. of pivotal CRIC research – University of Copenhagen

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20 March 2017

Isabel Bramsen successfully defends her Ph.D. of pivotal CRIC research

CRIC is proud to announce that Isabel Bramsen has received the degree of Ph.D. as her thesis “Route causes of conflict: Trajectories of violent and nonviolent conflict intensification” was approved after the defense on Thursday March 9th 2017. Isabel presented the project and findings with great conviction and enthusiasm, and was applauded for utilizing new methods of video analysis and doing pivotal research in the field of peace and conflict studies. During her period as Ph.d. Student, Isabel has been a forceful figure in the development of CRIC; and fortunately she remains at CRIC as a post.doc. The dissertation can be bought at in print and e-book version.

The assessment committee consisted of:

  • Associate professor Birthe Hansen, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen (chair)
  • Professor Isak Svensson, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Professor Emeritus Randall Collins, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Taking point of departure in the assumption that violence is a form rather than a degree of conflict, the focus of the dissertation is twofold: firstly to theorize conflict and conflict intensity as distinct from violence and secondly to investigate how and why conflicts turn violent (or not). The dissertation consists of 9 articles and frame. The first 4 articles theorizes conflict as a social form consisting of three interrelated elements: a situation of contradiction, conflictual interaction and tension. In conflict escalation these three elements are intensified and reinforce each other in chains of interaction rituals such as demonstrations or fighting that energizes actors for further action. The remaining 5 articles examines three Arab Spring cases that took three different pathways: regime change in Tunisia, repression in Bahrain and violent escalation in Syria. Based on 52 interviews and 90 videos of violence and nonviolence it is argued that violence occurred in particular situations where the attacker dominated the situation or avoided facial confrontation with the victim and that the development of the three conflicts depended on which party had the momentum, the nature of repression whether the parties were internally united as well as whether emotional, material and practice mechanisms pushed the conflict in a violent direction or not. The dissertation concludes by investigating how the insights about violence and nonviolence can be used to improve nonviolent resistance and prevent violence.