Social conflict and peace-building: the perceptions, experiences, and contributions of leaders of selected community-based organizations in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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Ahmed, Kawser
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People perceive social conflict and conflict issues in different ways. My research is directed at understanding how leaders from some of Winnipeg’s Community-Based Organizations (CBOs; faith and ethno-cultural NGOs) perceive and experience social conflict and to explore their contributions toward peace-building and conflict transformation. Historically, Winnipeg has been home to a plethora of faith-based, ethno-cultural community organizations, and NGOs whose mission is to provide crucial basic and spiritual needs to people. Their contribution to the nurturing of both the spiritual and social needs of their communities is also remarkable. This qualitative research is based on semi-structured interviews and participant observation as research instruments to observe social events related to conflict and peace-building. Critical ethnographic and grounded theory approaches inform the methodology while drawing necessary inferences from relevant quantitative data. From this research, several key findings become evident: 1) CBO leaders have a high level of personal motivation and employ a wide range of tools, such as the social capital of their organizations, to intervene in social conflict issues for the purpose of peace-building; 2) of the three types of CBO (faith, ethno-cultural and NGOs), the Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) are the most networked and involved in transforming social conflicts and contributing toward peace-building in Winnipeg; 3) some respondents seemed to indicate that not all projects are contributing equally in addressing social conflict issues; 4) social conflict issues appear to be rooted in an unjust social structure and a number of socio-economic-political and cultural policies; 5) research participants cited five complex, interrelated conflict issues in Winnipeg; 6) a grounded theoretical concept (Perception-Expectation-Frustration) was generated to explain social conflict; and 7) these everyday leaders are using a plethora of strategies as everyday peace-builders who are engaged global citizens, and citizen diplomats to create oases of peace in a society where people are struggling with social inequality, discrimination, and poverty in order to address people's immediate needs, promote awareness, and influence policy. In sum, the meso level CBO leaders perceive social conflict holistically and some of their peace-building projects may be contributing substantially towards a long-term process of social conflict transformation in Winnipeg.
Social conflict, Peace-building, Community based organization (CBO), Asset based peace-building, Faith based peace-building