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A Question of Values: Johan Galtung's Peace Research

Peter Lawler
ISBN: 978-1-55587-507-7
1995/280 pages/LC: 94-8624
Critical Perspectives on World Politics

"Provides an exhaustive account of Galtung’s peace research without loss of clarity or intelligibility.... We are ... carefully guided through Galtung’s not-always-succinct writings on world affairs."—Lars I. Andersson, Peace & Change

"While looking at the evolution of Galtung's multifaceted peace research agenda and its philosophical and theoretical foundations, Lawler provides an excellent review of peace research in general...this is a thorough and well-written work, whose strength lies not only in providing a tour of the works of one of the most influential European scholars in international relations, but also in educating readers about peace research and the evolution of this sub-field over the last three decades."—International Journal

"The first extended critical "reading" of Galtung's principal theoretical writings."—Choice


In this first comprehensive and critical account of the development of Johan Galtung's thought, Peter Lawler places Galtung's work in the context of past and contemporary debates in international relations, political theory, and the social sciences more generally.

The starting point of the book is an examination of the young Galtung's writings on sociology and the foundational model of peace research that emerged from them. Going on to survey subsequent periods, Lawler sees each of the distinct phases of Galtung's work as the reflection of a shifting wider intellectual milieu, ranging from the positivism of North American sociology in the 1950s through the postmodern sensibilities central to contemporary social theory. Throughout, he scrutinizes the conceptual icons (e.g., "positive peace" and "structural violence") that Galtung has contributed to the discourses of peace research and international relations," as well as the broader philosophical and methodological underpinnings of his work.

Providing the most extensive survey of Galtung's work to be published in English, Lawler also shows how Galtung's prolific and often iconoclastic writings, in their weaknesses as much as in their strengths, can shed light on a range of difficult questions about values and their place in the theorizing of global politics.


Peter Lawler is lecturer in international relations and director of the Centre for International Relations in the Department of Politics, Monash University (Australia).


  • Introduction.
  • The Sociological Origins of Galtung's Peace Research.
  • Peace Research as Science.
  • Structural Violence.
  • The Critique of Global Structure.
  • Constructivism.
  • From Human Needs to Global Values.
  • The True Worlds.
  • Peace as Nirvana.
  • Conclusion.