Coping with religious conflicts. Introducing a new concept in conflict research

Heyden, Katharina; Mona, Martino (2021). Coping with religious conflicts. Introducing a new concept in conflict research. Zeitschrift für Religion, Gesellschaft und Politik, 5(2), pp. 371-390. Springer VS 10.1007/s41682-021-00064-2

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This article presents conceptual results from the Interfaculty Research Cooperation “Religious Conflicts and Coping Strategies” at the University of Bern. Since 2018, researchers from various academic disciplines—theology, psychology, law, religious studies, social anthropology, jewish studies, islamic studies, political sciences, history, communication studies, philosophy, gender studies and german studies—have been comparatively investigating past and present conflicts with religious dimensions.

Conflicts involving religion often intensify, elude resolution or lose their constructive and socializing potential, because strong emotional, factual and interpretive aspects are interwoven. Established strategies of conflict resolution therefore often reach their limits in such conflicts. We show that the concept of coping has the advantage of focusing on the process rather than on the resolution of conflicts. It does not aim at solving a conflict that may not be solved, but it aims at looking for ways to shape and manage conflicts with religious dimensions. Coping as a concept originates from psychologists, who describe individuals as active beings who are able to deal with stressful situations on emotional, factual and interpretative-evaluative levels. The different types of coping correlate with three essential dimensions of religion. Therefore, coping as a travelling concept can be particularly fruitful for the interdisciplinary study of conflicts with religious dimensions. It fosters a context-sensitive and differentiated analysis of the dynamics of religious conflicts and may therefore contribute to develop the approach of conflict transformation. First, this paper presents guiding questions for such a context-sensitive conflict analysis; second, it presents an analytical model that visualizes the relevant conflict factors, dimensions of religion and types of coping and facilitates questions about their interactions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


02 Faculty of Law > Department of Penal Law > Institute for Penal Law and Criminology
01 Faculty of Theology > Institute of Historical Theology
01 Faculty of Theology > Institute of Historical Theology > Ancient History of Christianity and Interreligious Encounters

UniBE Contributor:

Heyden, Katharina and Mona, Martino


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 340 Law
200 Religion
200 Religion > 210 Philosophy & theory of religion
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Springer VS




Katharina Heyden

Date Deposited:

28 Apr 2021 15:06

Last Modified:

23 Jan 2022 01:40

Publisher DOI:





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