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The Department of Political and Conflict Studies

Democratisation and Governance

The 21st Century has ushered in a new wave of speculation surrounding the dominant global orientations of democratic governance and the accompanying ideology of liberalism. For aspiring political analysts, the field offers the opportunity to study and critique the successes and failures of liberal democracy since the end of the Cold War.

In this way, we are encouraged to philosophise and evaluate the evolution of representative governance and its ideological implications. It leads us to discussions about:

  • political and civil liberties
  • the involvement of civil society in policy-making processes;
  • and the effectiveness of policies implemented by elites and their subordinate bureaucracies.

By natural extension, students and researchers at NMMU aim to study how the practical enactments of democratic governance influence the lives of South African or African civil society.

However, there are supplementary contemporary research agendas that should not be ignored by a continued globalizing and interconnecting world. These include:

  • the resilient maintenance of authoritarian regimes;
  • the effects of religious fundamentalism and ethnic factionalism on politics;
  • and the meteoric rise of illiberal capitalism.


In changing perceptions of governance, including the respective global resurrections of socialism and conservatism, liberal democracy can no longer boast a monopoly of ideological influence to remedy challenges in governance. New or reformed political systems, especially those in Asia, Africa and South America provide suitable opportunities to revive comparative politics.

Conflict Transformation and Management

The study of conflict transformation and management has rapidly evolved to constitute more than just inter-state and/or intra-state political conflict. NMMU offers traditional undergraduate modules in conflict transformation and mediation studies. In these programmes, particular thematic focus is placed on deep-rooted ethnic, ethno-religious, inter-class and xenophobic violence. Furthermore, at post-graduate level, Conflict Management has expanded to encompass the study of all formats of conflict, which may extend to disputation at community, societal or organisational levels.

The department prides itself on the ability of conflict studies to traverse multiple fields in the social sciences (such as sociology and psychology) on a path to becoming an inter-disciplinary research field. This comes at the recognition that not all conflict is fashioned in the political sphere. In this regard, some research areas cater directly to conventional conflict management but others may have a broader research agenda. Areas of analytical focus include:

  • Applied conflict management skills
  • Conflict in world politics
  • International peacekeeping
  • Development, change and conflict
  • Violence studies

Web Compiler/Admin

Mr. Giovanni Poggi

(Researcher/Contract Lecturer)

NMMU South Campus