The Victim-Perpetrator Paradigm

  • Sarah E. Jankowitz
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Compromise after Conflict book series (PSCAC)


This chapter proposes the victim-perpetrator paradigm as a framework to understand contention surrounding victimhood in intergroup conflict. Adversarial groups in conflict employ binary, archetypal constructions of victimhood and responsibility as a function of intergroup processes. The victim-perpetrator paradigm, then, explains how groups that claim victim status create a favourable self-image which is accentuated against the ‘bad’ out-groups they identify as perpetrators, and how such processes resonate with group-serving explanations of violence. The case of Northern Ireland illustrates how these group narratives proliferate to protect in-group victim claims, denying in-group responsibility and out-group suffering. Violence committed by the in-group is framed as legitimate, and those whose actions threaten groups’ moral self-image are portrayed as deviants or ‘bad apples’.


Victims Perpetrators Intergroup relations Social identity Conflict 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah E. Jankowitz
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Irish StudiesUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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