Universität Bielefeld

© Universität Bielefeld

Institute for
Interdisciplinary Research
on Conflict and Violence


Focus of research

Conflict and violence are relevant issues in changing societies. Social changes within societies can lead to multiple intra societal conflicts, such as social disparities, inequalities, misrecognition of groups and processes of marginalization, which potentially lead to enmity, discrimination, and conflicts among and between groups.

IKG analyzes the antecedents, expressions, and consequences of conflicts and violence within societies. Exemplary questions the IKG seeks to answer are: What are the roots of specific conflicts and particular forms of violence? When do conflicts escalate into violence? How to break the link between conflict and violence? How, when, and why do individuals and groups (de)radicalize, adopt (abandon) extremist ideologies or (reject) endorse radical action? Which social groups suffer from prejudices and discrimination and how are these attitudes and behaviors shaped through societal change? How to overcome prejudice and discrimination and promote equivalency and integration?

The IKG’s multitude of empirical projects on, radicalization, discrimination and integration aim to offer an understanding of the dynamics and mechanisms underlying conflict and violence as well as ways in which groups regulate them. The central aim of IKG is to conduct fundamental research on the one hand and on the other hand offer theory- and evidence-based recommendations for policy makers and practitioners working in the fields of discrimination, prejudice reduction and integration, conflict and violence prevention, and in contexts of peace building and post-conflict reconciliation.


Research profile

Focus: Conflict and Violence are the umbrella for IKG research which focuses on theoretically grounded empirical understanding of conflicts within societies. IKG provides fundamental scientific analyses as well as practical implications in the sense of a true science-to-action-transfer.

Research Approach: IKG research is empirical and uses theoretical framing and modeling purposefully as analytical tools.

Paradigm: IKG hosts research projects in an interdisciplinary setting, committed to optimize the potential of interdisciplinary work and understanding. Though the projects themselves are not necessarily interdisciplinary in nature, the hosting structure and research culture is.


Research Areas

IKG has four cross cutting research areas. Under the umbrella of interdisciplinary conflict and violence research these areas are: 1. Radicalization/Deradicalization of individuals and (extremist) groups, 2. Discrimination/Equivalency of groups in societies, 3. Integration/Marginalization of individuals and groups in societies and 4. Migration, Space and Social Change. Phenomena in relation with these areas are analyzed in their own regard as well as concerning their part in conflict dynamics (potentially) leading to violence, and vice versa. The specific research is done in distinctive projects which are clustered in the research areas. This enables IKG to provide the interdisciplinary contribution to scientific discourses and/or science-to-action transfer that overcomes single project borders.

+ Radicalization/Deradicalization

Within this IKG research cluster Radicalization is framed as an internalization of political, religious and/or antisocial ideals into the social identity of a person. In order to empirically analyze Radicalization, projects in this cluster look at changes in affective and cognitive processes, shifts in social relationship patterns, transformation of life-courses and characterizing critical turning points.

A recent focus of IKG projects in this area is directed at political radicalization of individuals and groups as well as on Deradicalization and positive conflict regulation via reducing violent ideologies and mechanisms of exclusion. In addition, approaches on violence prevention and Deradicalization are being scrutinized and mapped, opening IKG to empirical studies and discourses which are classically located in peace research.


+ Discrimination and Equivalency

This IKG research cluster focuses on Phenomena related to social discrimination such as stereotypes, prejudice, and group-focused enmity. Those phenomena are understood as expressions of collective boundary making and social exclusion and are seen as important indicators and/or outcomes of societal conflict.

IKG projects in this area analyze the roots of inequity, discrimination, and generalized prejudices (e.g., Group Focused Enmity). For 14 years, the IKG has conducted a cross-sectional survey on Group-Focused Enmity in Germany and several studies examine the ideologies, emotions, and attitudes of relevant social groups. Focusing on specific conflicts between groups, the IKG aims to offer evidence-based recommendations for conflict regulation and measures against social discrimination.

+ Integration and Marginalization

Within this IKG research cluster extremist orientation, prejudices and discrimination are seen as indicators of group attempts to marginalize and dominate other groups. Accordingly research in this area focuses 1) on conflicts that are the result or reason for attacks on (members of) minority groups 2) on conflicts in conjunction with individuals and groups who are perceived outsiders or newcomers confronted with prejudices and discrimination and 3) on conflicts in relation to acculturation processes.

IKG projects in this area analyze attitudes towards integration of immigrants and conflicts regarding the integration of minorities into German society.

+ Migration, Space and Social Change

This research cluster stresses IKG´s empirical focus on processes of migration and dynamics of integration within a certain space and time. Taking this into account research in this area contributes to understanding the role of conflict and violence in social and historical change.

Projects in this area analyze the key-role of social spaces (like milieus or neighborhoods) for dynamics and mechanisms of conflict and violence. This cluster has major cross cuts to the other three areas, as certain social spaces with their socio-ecological conditions, cultures and traditions are seen as significant for integration, discrimination and/or radicalization.


To illustrate this, the following graphic shows the research clusters as areas of their own which are linked through the interdisciplinary frame of IKG. Within this frame conflictive and/or violent phenomena are analyzed in specific research projects. Those projects have their own perspective concerning theoretical and methodological approach on the respective phenomenon but are linked to each other by their relation to the research areas.

green tetraeder showing research profile