Researching public authority through the manifestations of civicness.

Civicness can be expressed within political systems dominated by political markets and identity politics; as a transformative display of concern for others; as a manifestation of humanising the system; or as an act of resistance to it.
Rajaa Altalli, Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria. Source: Flickr/Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.

In all conflicts it is possible to find individuals and groups of people who help each other, who try to bring communities together or who resist the dynamics of conflict. This can be described as civicness. In all our sites, we observe an emphasis among a range of actors on the importance of civicness, albeit in different vernacular versions – citoyenneté in DRC, for example, or madani in Syria and Iraq.

In the Conflict Research Programme, we use the term civicness as a logic of public authority, which we contrast to the political marketplace and to identity politics. And we apply the term at all levels – local, national and international. It has something to with the notion that public authority is based on consent, and consent is generated voluntarily through shared deliberative processes based upon norms and rules that value respect for persons. This includes practices that sustain integrity, trust, civility, inclusion and dialogue, and non-violence.

It is a logic that is based on the implicit assumption of a social contract among citizens. Acting like a citizen means acting as though social relations are based this social contract. Civicness has to be understood both as a normative aspiration and as something that is empirically observable. 

Our civicness research outputs:



Voller, Yaniv 'Advantages and challenges to diaspora transnational civil society activism in the homeland: examples from Iraqi Kurdistan, Somaliland and South Sudan', LSE Conflict Research Programme, April 2020.


O'Driscoll, Dylan 'Building everyday peace in Kirkuk, Iraq: The potential of locally focused interventions', SIPRI, September 2019.

Ibreck, Rachel, South Sudan's Injustice System: Law and Activism on the Frontline, ZED Books, August 2019.

al-Kaisy, Aida, 'A Fragmented Landscape: Barriers to Independent Media in Iraq', LSE Middle East Centre - Conflict Research Programme, June 2019.



Opportunities for peace and democracy: civicness in conflict societies, Conflict Zone from the LSE Conflict Research Programme, 11 September 2020.

Civic Stories from Conflict Zones: examples from the DR Congo, Somalia and SyriaLSE Conflict Research Programme, 10 February 2020. 


Prospects for Democracy in SudanLSE Conflict Research Programme, 11 October 2019.

LSE Festival 2019: Art & Conflict, LSE Conflict Research Programme and LSE Department of Government, March 2019.


Civic Perspectives on Conflict, LSE Conflict Research Programme, November 2018.

Understanding the Drivers of Conflict in Iraq, LSE Middle East Centre - Conflict Research Programme, 30 October 2018.

Understanding Violence in Africa and the Middle EastLSE Conflict Research Programme, 19 March 2018.

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LSE International Development Department, Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE

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