Peace-building, state-building and democratisation efforts often focus strongly on the state, and follow the Weberian logic of states holding the monopoly of the legitimate use of violence. In doing so, they may be neglecting more recent and nuanced understandings of the nature of governance arrangements in fragile and conflict settings, and of the range and scope of citizen agency both in general and in such settings.
This article presents a research programme on Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency, which sets out to counter the state-heavy or at best ‘CSO-heavy’ approach of many aid agencies and peace-building change agents. Through a fresh look at relevant literature and theory and case studies in five settings marked by violent conflict, the programme seeks to construct the conceptual clarity and synergies that are needed to underpin shifts towards more citizen-centred perspectives among aid and change agents working in situations of chronic violence and fragility.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 45.5 (2014) Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency