Transforming conflict: trust, empathy, and dialogue

Head, N. (2012) Transforming conflict: trust, empathy, and dialogue. International Journal of Peace Studies, 17(2), pp. 33-55.

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.

Publisher's URL:


There remains within International Relations a general presumption towards mistrust which characterises interactions at the global level and which has been identified as a relevant factor in conflict transformation. How we conceptualise trust and mistrust matters because it can make the difference between war and peace. This article considers trust, empathy, and dialogue as central concepts for an understanding of conflict and its transformation. Arguing for a relational and dynamic understanding of trust, empathy, and dialogue, the article identifies limitations within IR and contributes to an emergent interdisciplinary research agenda. The contested and unresolved negotiations between Iran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program which is framed by the parties as a dilemma of trust, serves to illustrate some of the obstacles to exercising empathy and, at the same time, the need to engage in reflexive dialogue in order to build trust and transform adversarial relationships.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Also published as: Head, N. (2016), Transforming conflict: trust, empathy, and dialogue in Yohan Ariffin, Jean-Marc Coicaud, Vesselin Popovski (eds.), Emotions in International Politics: Beyond Mainstream International Relations, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). ISBN: 9781107113855
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Head, Dr Naomi
Authors: Head, N.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:International Journal of Peace Studies

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record