Structure and Agency in Peace Psychology: Temporality as Mediating Gesture Between Abstract and Concrete Intervention

  • Kevin McKenzie
Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS)


My interest in this chapter will be to explore how an orientation to different aspects of temporality affords a way of managing contrastive demands for moral accountability in descriptions of conflict intervention by peace psychologists and other third-party actors. More specifically, I will be concerned to explore how the professional activities of those outside parties involved in managing the various effects of armed conflict are afforded moral legitimacy through the selective appeal to both structural and agentive accounts of related violence, and will consider the way that these different forms of explanation are variably invoked to underwrite the legitimacy of activities on the part of these professional practitioners. We will begin by examining the text of a programmatic description taken from the literature of peace psychology (Christie, Tint, Wagner, & Winter, 2008; see also Christie, 2006 and Christie & Montiel, 2013), and then move on to consider a number of examples of talk recorded in face-to-face interviews with representatives of various humanitarian aid organizations that operate in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. An especially significant feature of the different modes of accountability we will consider is that of the descriptive placement of the particulars of armed conflict along a temporally unfolding trajectory, such that concrete events of violent confrontation are related to a noumenal order of explanatory reasoning wherein those particulars are taken as documentary evidence of the transcendent, structural origins out of which they (those particulars) are said to emerge. Both structural and agentive modes of explanation are made relevant to justify the relationship that third-party actors have with the antagonists of conflict, both for the positive effects those relations are presumed to have on the relationship between said antagonists, and for the entitlement of those outside parties to act upon the related affairs in question.


Aid work Discursive psychology Ethnomethodology Peace psychology Structural violence 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin McKenzie
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent Researcher (formerly at University of Cyprus and Qatar University)BrooklynUSA

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