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Conflict Studies and Human Rights
Christoph Zuercher

Conflict- Theory-Violence What is a conflict and why is it normal? What is a violent conflict, and why is it not “normal”? And why do we need theory? Theory A theory is a tentative conjecture about the causes of a phenomenon. Theories help to understand what causes these phenomena. A theory can be restated as a hypothesis. A Hypothesis is a theory based statement about a relationship that we expect to observe. Hypothesis can be tested. This helps to build theories. On the Benefits of Theory 1. Comparing theories to real events (“Cases”) helps us to understand these events. Theories help to “make sense”, by informing us what matters, and what not. 2. Sometimes, the “event” contradict the theory. Then we need to refine and adapt the theory. This is how we learn. 3. The “dialogue of theory and data” is essential for social science. The final objective of social science is inference. Inference = to learn about causality beyond the immediate data to something broader that is not directly observable. (=discover a “law”) Inference is restricted in time and space. Scientists are aware of these restrictions and are transparent about them. 4. Theory leads to a better understanding for the
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