MICROCON: a micro-level analysis of violent conflict
Researcher(s): Roger Zetter
Dates: January 2007–December 2011
Donors: European Commission–6th Framework
MICROCON, or ‘A Micro Level Analysis of Violent Conflict’, takes an innovative micro level, multidisciplinary approach to the study of the conflict cycle. Almost one third of the world's population lives in conflict-affected low-income countries. At a fundamental level, conflict originates from people’s behaviour and how they interact with society and their environment - from its ‘micro' foundations. Yet most conflict research and policy focuses on ‘macro' perspectives. MICROCON seeks to redress this balance.
The MICROCON programme included 28 different research projects working in over 40 countries. The Refugee Studies Centre led work on migration and displacement with MICROCON Projects 12 and 13 exploring the dynamics of conflict and migration in the Somali regions and in the European Union. The projects were directed by Professor Roger Zetter in collaboration with Dr Nicholas Van Hear (Special Advisor), Dr Anna Lindley (Research Officer) and Dr Susan Zimmermann (Research Officer).
MICROCON aimed to explore the individual, household and group interactions leading to and resulting from violent mass conflicts. The programme is intended to contribute to better informed domestic, regional and international conflict policy, which places individuals and groups at the centre of their interventions.
MICROCON Project 12
MICROCON Project 12, conducted by Dr Anna Lindley, explored migration dynamics in the context of protracted conflict; the causes, processes and reception of conflict-related migration in the Somali regions of the Horn of Africa.
The field research focused on a particular fragment of this wider picture, with a micro-level study of a small sample of people seeking refuge in Somaliland. The analysis located these micro-level realities in the context of wider political economies, at national, regional and global levels.
Key research questions included:
- Why are people migrating? What is the role of violence and other factors (including environmental and economic factors)? What is the role of local and international governance mechanisms in the causation of migration?
- How does migration occur? What choices are available, to whom, at what stages? What kinds of journeys are involved? How is movement governed by local and international actors?
- What is the experience of people from conflict-affected regions settling in Somaliland? What issues does immigration pose for host communities?
MICROCON Project 13
MICROCON Project 13, conducted by Dr Susan Zimmerman, examined whether conflict in sending areas may serve to mediate refugee situations elsewhere. Whereas most integration research has tended to look at refugees relationships with their host countries and obstacles to settlement – such as language barriers, non-recognition of skills, and impoverishment – this new dynamic explored the effects of sending areas themselves. Interviews held with refugees within two host countries were used to explore these topics.
Key research questions included:
- Does conflict affect long-term aspirations of where to live? Does it impact upon the degrees and kinds of settlement undertaken, and upon aspirations and life trajectories of refugees?
- How do they belong to a diaspora, in terms of political and wider engagement with host or sending areas?
- To what extent does conflict back home condition who they are, where they are, and where they are going?
Activities and impacts
Presentations related to this project have been made at various academic, civil society and policy events:
- ‘Leaving Mogadishu: Migration and Young People's Decisions', presentation at the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence, Italy, 19 April 2010
- ‘Migration, Displacement and Health: Some policy-related thinking points’ with Olivier Degomme, MICROCON Policy Issues Workshop, DIW Berlin, 2 Jul 2009
- ‘Imagining the Foreigner? Immigration and Post-Conflict State-Building in Somaliland’ International Association for the Study of Forced Migration 12th Conference, Nicosia (Panel on Migration, Post-Conflict Transition and Nation-Building in New and Quasi States), 29 June 2009
- Panel organiser and chair, Diaspora Issues, Workshop on Somalia: Expanding Humanitarian Space, Refugee Studies Centre, 9 Jun 2009
- African Journals Workshop, St Anthony’s College Oxford, 14 Mar 2009
- Destination Somaliland: Migration Trends and Challenges’ Somali Week Festival, Oxford House in Bethnal Green, London, 14 Oct 2008
- Panelist for ‘Dhoof Baa I Galay: A Cultural Journey into a Travelling Culture’ Youth Workshop organised by COOPI and others, Hargeisa, 30 July 2008
- ‘Diaspora and Development’ with Mohamed Osman Fadal, Civic Dialogue Forum, Academy for Peace and Development, Hargeisa, 4 Aug 2008
- ‘Exploring Citizenship and Immigration in Somaliland’ Leadership Seminar, African Centre for Social Research and Media, Hargeisa 25 Jul 2008
- MICROCON Research Assistants Training Workshop (3 days, June 2008) and Analysis Workshop (July 2008), held at the Academy for Peace and Development
- ‘New Europeans: a preliminary review of the onward movement of refugees within the European Union’ with Nicholas Van Hear, Seminar on EU Secondary Migration, Institute of Public and Policy Research, London, 23 Apr 2008
Zetter, R. [forthcoming 2012] ‘Violent Conflict, Population Mobility and Displacement: A Micro Analysis’, (with Purdekova, A.), Ch.7 in Justino, P., Brück, T., Verwimp, P., (eds) Destruction, Resilience and Transformation: A Micro-Level Perspective on the Dynamics of Violence and Conflict, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Zetter, R. (2011) ‘Violence, Conflict and Mobility - A micro analysis’, Conference Paper for Microcon Research Project, Final Conference, IDS Sussex (with Purdekova, A.) Download the paper from the MICROCON website (731KB PDF)
Zetter, R. (2011) ‘Navigating Conflict: Households’ Coping Strategies’ with Phillip Vervimp: Microcon Policy Briefing No. 9. Download the paper from the MICROCON website (971KB PDF)
Zimmermann, S. and Zetter, R. (2011) Reconsidering the Role of Conflict in the Lives of Refugees: The Case of Somalis in Europe, Microcon Research Working Paper 45, May 2011. Download the paper from the MICROCON website (211KB PDF)
Lindley, A. (2010) ‘Leaving Mogadishu: Towards a Sociology of Conflict-Related Mobility’, Journal of Refugee Studies, 23:1, pps. 2-22
Lindley, A. (2009) 'Voices of the dispossessed: displacement and peace-building in the Somali regions' In: Bradbury, Mark and Healy, Sally, (eds.), Somali peace processes. Accord; 21. London: Conciliation Resources
Lindley, A. (2009) 'Leaving Mogadishu: Towards a Sociology of Conflict-Related Mobility', Journal of Refugee Studies, 23(1): 2-22.
Lindley, A. (2009) ‘Leaving Mogadishu: The War on Terror and Displacement Dynamics in the Somali Regions’ MICROCON Working Paper, No. 15. Falmer: Institute of Development Studies
Lindley, A. (2009) ‘Crisis and displacement in Somalia’ Forced Migration Review, No.33 (September 2009)
Lindley, A. (2009) 'Leaving Mogadishu: researching the causes of displacement, 2007-2008' Refugee Studies Centre Newsletter, Summer 2009