Reconciliation versus justice? It depends on the context: The role of symmetric and asymmetric violence in predicting postconflict attitudes
Whether attitudes toward postconflict justice and reconciliation are complementary or contradictory has been long debated. We posit that the answer to this question is context-dependent. Multilevel analyses of two large-scale surveys among war-affected communities in the former Yugoslavia (total N = 11,843), combined with geo-coded data on conflict events, demonstrate that a crucial contextual determinant is the prevalence of asymmetric violence in communities: The more a community was exposed to events of asymmetric violence, which disproportionately affect one group, the more the support for justice was linked to rejecting reconciliation. These findings were conceptually replicated with two different data sets and different operationalizations of justice and reconciliation attitudes. Conversely, in one study, the more a community was exposed to symmetric violence, which affects members of all adversary groups, the more the justice and reconciliation were perceived as compatible. This study shows the importance of a contextualized approach to understanding intergroup attitudes in postconflict settings.
Social Psychological and Personality Science
asymmetric violence, justice, multilevel analyses, reconciliation, symmetric violence
Penić, Sandra; Vollhardt, Johanna Ray; and Reicher, Stephen, "Reconciliation versus justice? It depends on the context: The role of symmetric and asymmetric violence in predicting postconflict attitudes" (2021). Psychology. 633.