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Volume 4

Expanded Contents | Figures | Tables


1. Perspective And Summary
2. International Relations
3. The International Actors
4. International Behavior Space-Time
5. International Expectations And Dispositions
6. International Actor And Situation
7. International Sociocultural Space-Time
8. Interests, Capabilities, And Wills
9. The Social Field Of International Relations
10. Latent International Conflict
11. International Conflict: Trigger, Will, And Preparations
12. The Balancing Of Power
13. Comparative Dynamics Of International Conflict
15. Empirical Dynamics Of International Conflict
16. Causes And Conditions Of International Conflict And War
17. Ending Conflict And War: The Balance Of Powers
18. The International Conflict Helix
19. Theoretical And Empirical Conclusions On Conflict And War 20. Principles Of Peace And Conflict


15A. Phasing Propositions and Their Evidence on International Conflict
16A. On Causes of International Conflict
16B. Propositions and Their Evidence on the Causes and Conditions of International Conflict Behavior
16C. Evidence on the Causes and Conditions of International Conflict Behavior
17A. Propositions and Evidence on the Causes and Conditions of Ending International Conflict Behavior
18A. Descriptive Propositions on International Conflict
19A. Overall Evidence on 54 Social Field Propositions on International Conflict
I. Unpublished Research and Results on International Relations
II. Event Data: Bases of Empirical Conflict Analysis
III. Characteristics of Published Quantitative International Relations Studies

Other Volumes

Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field
Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix
Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective
Vol. 5: The Just Peace

Other Related Work

Conflict And Violence page

Democratic Peace page


Appendix 19B

Primary Propositions
Social Conflict*

By R.J. Rummel

In a related work on field theory I concluded with five general propositions (FTE: Field Theory Evolving, 1977: 497) on international relations. These are given in Table 19B.1 and labeled for easy identification later. A few words on each might be helpful.

The International Relations Proposition has found additional support from the results given in Appendix 9A and from the positive, systematic evidence for the 54 propositions (Appendix 19A).

The Components Proposition is exemplified by the empirical components presented in Chapter 4 for behavior (particularly Table 4.1) and Chapter 7 for attributes (especially Table 7.1), and further supported by the additional analyses mentioned therein.

The Behavioral-Equation Proposition is empirically exemplified in Appendix 9A and forms a framework for the theoretical discussion in Chapter 8.1

The Model II Proposition is also a basic perspective of this whole work, and is of particular focus in Chapter 6. The findings in Appendix 9A and the positive evidence for the related Actor Proposition 16.7 provide additional support for it.

Finally, the Distance Vector Proposition is a more general (but in variance terms, more specific) statement of the Distance Vector Proposition 16.6 presented here for international conflict. Of course, the strong support for Proposition 16.6 also additionally helps confirm the FTE one.

Besides these general proposition on international relations, I have also stated in Chapter 32 and Chapter 35 of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (TCH) general propositions on collective or social violence, of which international conflict is a species. These are given in Table 19B.2.

In Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix, as in this Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace, I related all my available evidence to these seven propositions. All were well supported (Chapter 35).

The question here is then how these three sets of propositions (the five from FTE, the seven from TCH, and the 54 from this Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace) are interrelated and what primary propositions will incorporate all three sets.

Eight primary propositions of conflict are listed in Table 19B.3. These are meant to be the most general scientific propositions about conflict, violence and war supported by my work and that of others. Their selection and statement articulate most generally my ontological perspective on conflict developed in these volumes.

For each primary proposition is listed those propositions from the three sets which underlie its statement. The diverse empirical support explicitly shown for these underlying propositions in this and the other works then collectively provide confirmation of the primary propositions.

Each of the primary propositions will be discussed briefly in turn. The underlying propositions will be woven into this discussion and identified when appropriate with regard to Table 19B.3.

Primary Proposition 19.1 (Disrupted Expectations): Disrupted expectations cause Conflict Behavior.

The underlying Proposition 16.1 stated that "Conflict Behavior if and only if disrupted expectations." By dropping the "only if" (because we are dealing with conflict at all levels and cannot assume that all parties had developed a structure of expectations--some people may be meeting for the first time) I have raised this to a primary proposition.

The role of the structure of expectations in conflict has been a central theme of this and the previous volumes. Its formation defines peace, harmony, cooperation; its disruption precipitates manifest conflict--violence, if the status quo is involved (Proposition 16.10); and intense internal and external violence if it be the general status quo (Proposition 18.6). Through Conflict Behavior and possibly violence a new balance of powers (Proposition 17.1) is determined and associated expectations structured.

This conflict-balance-conflict-balance is a rhythm of social interaction. But individuals learn and previous adjustments are not forgotten. Therefore, within a closed system this process changes through time (Proposition 18.1): conflict becomes less intense, cooperation more enduring.

Primary Proposition 19.2 (Power): Power shapes conflict.

Power is fundamental to conflict in diverse ways. The type of power which dominates a society determines the type of manifest conflict it has (TCH-3). The amount of power of an actor predicts its degree of conflict involvement (Proposition 16.31); and its difference in power from other actors determines the direction and amount of manifest conflict (Proposition 16.32).

Moreover, the joint power of two actors measures their salience and thus potential conflict (Proposition 16.5), while their power parity indicates the likelihood that their conflict will escalate to violence (Proposition 16.21). And then the significant shift in military power to one of them will signal a termination of hostilities (Proposition 17.4).

Finally, the distribution of power in a society defines its class structure. And the more the society is divided along class lines, the more likely general violence or war (Proposition 16.22).

All this contributes to the balancing through which actors adjust their interests, capabilities, and wills and establish a balance of powers (Proposition 17.1).

Primary Proposition 19.3 (Freedom): Freedom minimizes violence.

The freedom of a people from government coercion is directly related to conflict. First, free--exchange--societies manifest a particular dimension of conflict (TCH-4): Pluralist, spontaneous conflict (TCH-5). Second, the freedom of a people limits the foreign violence In which they are involved (Proposition 16.27); and third, mutually free people simply do not engage in violence or make war on each other (Proposition 16.11).

A major reason for this relationship of freedom to violence is due to the effects of power polarity and cross-pressures. An increasing polarity in coercive power will polarize interests and create a class front along which issues escalate to violence (Proposition 16.20). Cross-pressures, on the other hand, are an aspect of exchange societies. Diverse, overlapping interests segment issues and drain off or contain conflict which might escalate to wide-scale violence (Proposition 16.24).

Primary Proposition 19.4 (Cooperation-Conflict): Cooperation and Conflict behavior are independent.

This raises Proposition 18.2 to the status of a primary. Here conflict is meant in two senses. Aggregate conflict behavior is statistically independent of that aggregate cooperation (flows and structures) reflecting structures of expectations (TCH-1; Proposition 18.2); and coercive conflict behavior is independent of that cooperative (noncoercive) behavior involved in the balancing of powers (Proposition 15.2).

Primary Proposition 19.5 (Change): Change produces conflict.

This raises the Change Proposition (TCH-2) in Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix to the status of a primary. Change in the interests, capabilities, or wills of those involved in a structure of expectations may create a gap between these expectations and the supporting balance of powers. This gap produces tension and hostility (Proposition 16.2) and risks a conflict producing breakdown in the structure of expectations (Proposition 16.3).

Primary Proposition 19.6 (Situation): Conflict takes place in a situation.

The situational nature of behavior has been an important theme in this Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace, as particularly discussed in Section 6.3 and Section 7.2 and operationalized in Appendix 9A.

Specifically, the inception and process of conflict depends on the particular situation an actor perceives and the expectations he has of the outcomes of his behavior in the situation (Proposition 16.7). Moreover, the ending of conflict as well, especially war (Proposition 17.7), is situational. While situations generally will vary by actor, one situation is common to most conflict behavior: for those parties who have sufficiently interacted in the past to form mutual expectations, conflict occurs within the context of a disrupted structure of expectations (Proposition 16.1); their violence within the context of disrupted core expectations--the status quo (Proposition 16.10). A stable status quo inhibits violence (Proposition 16.26).

Primary Proposition 19.7 (Perception-Expectations): Individual perceptions and expectations condition conflict.

Individual perceptions and expectations are central to understanding ourselves (Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field) and our social relations (Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix and Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective). The individuality of perception and expectations has been formalized in the Model II interpretation of field theory (FTE-4) and assumed throughout this Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace, as presented particularly in Chapter 6 and Chapter 8 and operationalized in Appendix 9A.

Perceptions and expectations enter into conflict in a number of ways. First and basically, an actor behaves according to his perception of the situation and expectations of the outcome of his behavior (Proposition 16.7). For this reason the probability of war varies by actor (Proposition 18.5). Perception of opportunity, threat, of injustice stimulates him to conflict (Proposition 16.29); and if this perception is abrupt conflict may be catalyzed or escalated (Proposition 16.28).

Moreover, expectations play a role in violence, which assumes an expectation of success (Proposition 16.9); and war, as a type of violence, win be terminated when both sides have come to expect the same outcome (Proposition 17.3).

Primary Proposition 19.8 (Distances): Sociocultural distances affect conflict.

That sociocultural differences between actors are forces on their behavior has been a conclusion of my theoretical and empirical research on international relations (FTE-3), and a motif of these volumes, as particularly discussed in Section 7.2 and operationalized in Appendix 9A (see also Chapter 16 of Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field; Part V of Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix; Chapter 6 of Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective).

Different kinds of sociocultural distances affect conflict in different ways. For one thing, the overall distances between actors play a role in their conflict. As vectors these distances reflect the opposing interests and capabilities between actors (Proposition 16.6): perceptions weight distance vectors within a situation. As absolute distances they aggravate conflict (Proposition 16.12).

In addition, status distance between the parties especially aggravates conflict (Proposition 16.22); and among types of status, power (Proposition 16.32) and class (Proposition 16.22) distance play particularly important roles in explaining conflict.

Among all the different kinds of distances, those that most influence conflict involve distances in wealth, power, and politics (Proposition 16.33).


* Scanned from Appendix 19B in R.J. Rummel, War, Power, Peace, 1979. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.

1. What might be confusing is the single term (w) on the left of the equality in the proposition, while in Appendix 9A there are a number of such terms on the left, each weighted with a parameter (expectations). This confusion can be avoided by keeping in mind that in the proposition w is a sum of these terms on the left. Technically, it is a canonical variate.

For citations see the Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace REFERENCES

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