Peace Studies and 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 Peace Studies and Sociology program equips students with theoretical knowledge and methodological tools to answer these and related questions.

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.

Doctoral students are trained in quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as sociological theory. Our faculty offer particular strengths in the subfields of social movements, the sociology of religion, and education and social psychology, empowering students to explore a wide range of topics during their time in the program.

Faculty Contact: Ann Mische, Associate Professor of Sociology and Peace Studies

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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 peace studies & sociology

“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 peace studies & sociology