A critical analysis of the work of John Burton
Author: Tarja Väyrynen

This book is a critical study of John Burton's work, which outlines an alternative framework for the study of international conflict, and re-examines conflict resolution. It argues that culture has a constitutive role in international conflict and conflict resolution. The book provides an overview of the mediation literature in order to locate problem-solving workshop conflict resolution within the context of peaceful third-party involvement. It analyses human needs thinking and examines the similarities between it and Burton's thinking. The book also examines the logic of Burton's argument by means of metaphor analysis, by analysing the metaphors which can be found in his human needs theory. It studies further Burton's views of action and rationality, and moves into phenomenology and social constructionism. The book takes as its starting-point a totalist theory of international conflict resolution, namely Burton's sociobiologically-oriented conflict theory, and demonstrates the logic of argument and the denial of culture underlying his problem-solving theory. It explains the dimensions of the social world in order to lay a foundation for the study of conflict and conflict resolution from the social constructionist perspective. The book presents a phenomenological understanding of conflict and problem-solving conflict resolution. Finally, it argues that problem-solving workshop conflict resolution can be best understood as an attempt to find a shared reality between the parties in conflict.

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Ten theses on culture and international conflict resolution
Tarja Väyrynen

John Burton's conflict and conflict resolution theories demonstrate the use of human needs theory and medical metaphors in peace and conflict studies. Implicit denial of the importance of culture in human affairs is at the very core of his theory of international conflict resolution. The strong universalising tendencies constitute his theory as a form of totalist theorising in the social sciences. In order for a problem-solving conflict resolution attempt to be successful, a dialogical community is necessary in which the parties can scrutinise each other's views of reality. In such a community the understanding of the uniqueness of the characteristics of the conflict at hand is developed by the facilitator and the parties themselves. The conceptual and theoretical framework suggested in this book can be translated into ten practical non-totalist guidelines for international conflict resolution, and especially for problem-solving conflict resolution. This chapter summarizes these for international problem-solving conflict resolution.

in Culture and international conflict resolution
Tarja Väyrynen

This chapter aims at studying John Burton's human needs theory and locating his version of theory in a wider tradition of thinking. The assumptive basis of needs thinking as it relates to the analysis of behaviour and motives is examined in the chapter in order to lay the foundations for an understanding of the rationale of Burton's workshop theory. The human needs narrative of Burton postulates a version of the alienation thesis. The thesis consists of the idea of human needs as something original which cannot be suppressed. Human needs thinking often includes a form of biological determinism. The notion of determinism as it relates to the explanation of human behaviour is complex. Since determinism is the thesis that every event has a cause, belief in determinism often embraces the claim that all human behaviour is causally explicable.

in Culture and international conflict resolution
Limitations and possibilities
Tarja Väyrynen

This chapter clarifies the role of relevance structures, typifications, language and discursive rationality in conflict and conflict resolution processes. Problem-solving workshop conflict resolution forms a framework for mutual cultural adaptation. The participants need to find a 'scheme of translation' to produce ways to understand each other and to create a shared reality. Since the problem-solving workshop offers a context for mutual adaptation, it needs to be studied how typifications change in that context. Face-to-face interaction between the conflicting parties is one of the core ideas on which most of the problem-solving conflict resolution approaches rely. Discursive rationality is fundamental in the context of problem-solving conflict resolution, because it contributes to the prevention of the further breakdown of 'sociality' and facilitates the finding of a shared language game. Since the workshop is an encounter where mutual cultural adaptation can take place, problem-solving workshop conflict resolution consists of discursive possibilities.

in Culture and international conflict resolution
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The problématique of culture in international conflict analysis
Tarja Väyrynen

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book. The book develops a non-totalist understanding of international conflict resolution in general, and of problem-solving conflict resolution in particular. It seeks a non-totalist understanding by studying conflict and conflict resolution in the light of constructionist ideas of the social world. The book examines John Burton's conflict and conflict resolution theory and its relation to his human needs theory. By applying phenomenological concepts, an understanding of conflict and conflict resolution can be gained which differs in many respects from Burton's theories. The most important point of departure is the account of culture, which Alfred Schutz's theories provide for conflict and conflict resolution theory. The book concludes with practical suggestions for international problem-solving conflict resolution.

in Culture and international conflict resolution
Tarja Väyrynen

Third-party intervention is one form of conflict resolution among legal regulation, the deterrence model and bargaining and negotiation. Third-party activity has traditionally been theorised in three ways. The focus has been on 'intermediary activities', 'general conflict theory' or the 'negotiation system'. The traditional view which emphasises mainly on intermediary activities studies third-party tactics and identities. The fourth approach to third-party intermediary activities can be found in problem-solving conflict resolution, which John Burton's theory exemplifies. Three problem-solving conflict resolution schools emerged, namely, the London, Yale and Harvard schools, which employed International Relations theorising and practical techniques differently. A comparison of three problem-solving approaches reveals that the Harvard group led by H. Kelman emphasises that international conflicts are not simply the product of misunderstanding and misperception. Real conflicts of interest or competing definitions of national interests are often, according to Kelman, at the centre of disputes.

in Culture and international conflict resolution
Tarja Väyrynen

For analytical purposes, the Burtonian approach is divided into three categories in this chapter: the entry decision, behaviour within the workshop structure and the behaviour of the facilitator. Before studying John Burton, the theory of rational choice needs to be examined. The rational choice approach can be seen to be a subgroup of J. Habermas's teleological model. It offers a model of optimising behaviour, or, as psychologists see it, the rational choice paradigm is a heuristic device for interpreting behaviour. Burton bases his explanation of entry on rational choice theory or, more generally, on a model of strategic action. The strategic action model which relies on the notion does not investigate the beliefs and motivations of actors, but imputes them for predictive and explanatory purposes. By employing a rational choice framework, Burton presupposes non-arbitrary access to the objective domain of behaviour on the part of the researcher.

in Culture and international conflict resolution
Tarja Väyrynen

This chapter discusses the social constructionist view of human being and social world offered by the phenomenologist Alfred Schutz. His view erects nonbiological foundations for human existence and, thereby, challenges the Burtonian biological account. It provides the readers also with conceptual tools which can be employed to give the problem-solving workshop a phenomenological interpretation. The chapter then discusses the cultural dimensions of the social world on the basis of Schutz's views. It is important to see how phenomenology differs from positivist social science and especially from political behaviouralism. It is also vital to understand the points of departure between such phenomenologists as Edmund Husserl and Schutz whose philosophy is inclined towards phenomenological sociology. In order to understand the origins of Schutz's phenomenology and a seminal difference between Schutz and Husserl, one needs to return to the notions of the natural attitude and intersubjectivity.

in Culture and international conflict resolution