Conflict and the cosmopolitan liberalism of the “world society” perspective

Vivienne Jabri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The “world society” perspective aspired to occupy a distinctive paradigmatic position, in opposition to realism and structuralism. Its primary focus was the understanding of conflict and the formation of an “activist” agenda that promoted the conflict researcher as facilitator of conflict resolution. This article argues that the perspective remained largely that, though expressive of a normative commitment to what the article suggests is a form of cosmopolitan liberalism committed to an individualist rationalist ontology. The absence of engagement beyond Burton’s with core questions in social and political thought led to the diminution of the perspective’s intellectual standing and, more seriously, to a certain de-politicisation of the conflicts the activists sought to transform. Nevertheless, there was the impetus to innovate and to create a new language in International Relations, one that placed interdisciplinary research on conflict and its resolution at its core. It is this latter aspect that is the lasting legacy of Burton, Groom and colleagues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-220
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Early online date19 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018


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