Sociology & Peace Studies

Sociology

How does the structure of society influence conflict or post-conflict peacebuilding? What variables affect the capacity of nonviolent civil resistance movements? How do religious norms and practices contribute to conflict and peacebuilding?

The sociology and peace studies doctoral program at the University of Notre Dame provides its students with the theoretical background and methodological tools to answer these and related questions. The doctoral program provides rigorous training in both sociology and peace studies.

Doctoral students are trained in quantitative methods — surveys, demographic data and statistical models — and qualitative methods such as interviews, focus groups and ethnography. They also are trained in sociological theory at the Kroc Institute and in the Department of Sociology. Notre Dame faculty offer particular strengths in the subfields of social movements, the sociology of religion, education and social psychology.

Notre Dame also is home to three associated centers: the Center for the Study of Social Movements, the Center for the Study of Religion and Society and the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity.

Sociology and Peace Studies

Peace studies has long been informed by sociology, particularly by the concept of positive peace — the absence of structural violence coupled with the presence of cooperation and social justice. Similar concepts have shaped discussions of modern development, prompting some scholars to conceive of “peace as freedom.”

Scholarship focusing on the social imagination (imagining the future) and the role of citizens in “everyday peacebuilding” helps to bridge sociological scholarship and peace praxis. These approaches emphasize the dynamic nature of social structures and relations, a promising avenue of inquiry for peacebuilding. A shift from conflict resolution toward conflict transformation and, more recently, strategic peacebuilding, emphasizes the relational dynamics of social change.  Strategic peacebuilding calls for targeted interventions at multiple levels, from the international to the interpersonal.

Peace studies in turn brings to sociology a normative vision, a concern with urgent problems of violence, peacebuilding efforts, inequality and sources of violence and exclusion.

Faculty

Faculty with active research programs in sociology and peace studies provide training and mentoring to Ph.D. students.

Faculty who teach in the joint program include:

Ann Mische, Associate Professor of Sociology and Peace Studies

Atalia Omer, Associate Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace Studies

Jason Springs, Associate Professor of Religion, Ethics and Peace Studies

Student & Alumni Testimonials

“I see a natural marriage between sociology and peace studies. While sociology aims to document and interpret society, the study of peace and conflict demands that one think seriously about the structure of society and the relationships that compose it.”
 — Leslie MacColman, Ph.D. student in sociology & peace studies

“As a student whose research focuses on social movements, I feel well-grounded in social theory and social research methods yet also competent within the interdisciplinary realm of peace studies.”
— Matthew Chandler, Ph.D. candidate in sociology & peace studies