Research Area III: Social Conflicts and Resilience

Research Focus

► Long and short-term effects of protest movements
► Resilience of social and political systems
► Paths of politico-religious mobilization
► Conflict interventions by regional actors

Crises, such as the coronavirus pandemic, can lead to societal conflicts and put pressure on politics and society. How societies deal with these challenges is determined to a large extent by their ability to cope with different crises, to adapt to new problem situations and to reposition themselves accordingly for possible future challenges. Our research focuses on the causes and consequences of social conflicts and the role of authority in them, as well as on the resilience of social and political systems and the framework conditions that promote resilience.

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One consequence of the contested nature of authority is resistance movements that social groups in numerous countries are organizing to bring about political change. Social and political protests have accordingly grown in number and significance over the past decade. Mobilization can be aimed at democratization processes. But they can also be directed against peace agreements. Moreover, as the rise of jihadist groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State illustrates, social mobilization often aims at the violent overthrow of existing orders.

In addition to the explanations for the mobilization of certain parts of the population, we are interested in the protest strategies used by social groups. Often, international actors play an important role in mobilizing social groups or in the subsequent state response. Our research therefore explores the question of when societal groups and/or the state receive support from external actors to mobilize/repress and how this influences the resilience of political orders. This includes the study of international peacekeeping missions, which often operate in a field of tension between transnational norms or goals of international actors and local realities in the areas of operation. Finally, we examine how social conflicts and crises influence the process of forming political orders, for example, by triggering changes in legal systems or in political decision-making processes.

So far, research has concentrated on the willingness of individuals or particular identity groups to mobilize. In our projects, we take a different approach by examining the role of social organizations. Social organizations have the networks and resources that are essential for successful mobilization. One focus here is on religious actors, political parties and rebel groups. We investigate the individual research questions in our projects using a theory-driven empirical approach that combines qualitative and quantitative methods.

Research Projects

African Non-Miltary Conflict Internvention Practices (ANCIP)

Peace Report

Protest Groups in the Aftermath of Mass Protest Campaigns against the State

Recent Publications

► Birchinger, Sophia / Bliss, Frank/ Debiel, Tobias (Coordination) / Gaesing, Karin / Haidara, Boubacar / Kemmerling, Birgit / Müller-Koné, Marie / Rinck, Patricia (Coordination) / Rosenberg, Carolin / Saalfeld, Jannis / Schetter, Conrad / Schmitz, Jasmin / Witt, Antonia 2024: Frieden und die Nachhaltigkeitsziele: Warum das Lokale zählt / Nachhaltiger Frieden, in: Friedensgutachten 2024. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 71-91.

► Saalfeld, Jannis 2022: Rejectionist Islamism in sub-Saharan Africa, in: International Affairs, 98: 2, 493-508. DOI:

► Vüllers, Johannes 2021: Revolutions and Constitutional Crisis, in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Oxford University Press. DOI:

► Vüllers, Johannes / Hellmeier, Sebastian 2021: Does Counter‐Mobilization Contain Right‐Wing Populist Movements? Evidence from Germany, in: European Journal of Political Research. DOI: 10.1111/1475-6765.12439

► Vüllers, Johannes / Krtsch, Roman 2020: Raise Your Voices! Civilian Protest in Civil Wars, in: Political Geography, 80, 102183. DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2020.102183

Head of Research Area

PD Dr. Johannes Vüllers

Room: LS 030
Phone: +49 (0)203-379-4450
E-Mail: johannes.vuellers[at]
Staff Portfolio

Participating Members

Dr. Ingrid Vik Bakken

Room: LS 033
Phone: +49 (0)203-379-3676
E-Mail: ingrid.bakken[at]
Staff Portfolio

Dr. Leonardo Bandarra

Room: LF 323
Phone: +49 (0203)-379-1991
E-Mail: leonardo.bandarra[at]
Staff Portfolio

Prof. Dr. Tobias Debiel

Room: LF 324
Phone: +49 (0)203-379-2021
E-Mail: tobias.debiel[at]
Staff Portfolio

Prof. Dr. Christof Hartmann

Room: LS 120
Phone: +49 (0)203-379-4421
E-Mail: christof.hartmann[at]
Staff Portfolio

Andréa Noël, M.A.

E-Mail: andrea.noel[at]

Dr. Patricia Rinck

Room: LF 316
E-Mail: patricia.rinck[at]
Staff Portfolio

Dr. Jannis Saalfeld

Room: LS 034
Phone: +49 (0)203-379-3847
E-Mail: jannis.saalfeld[at]
Staff Portfolio

Mona Saleh, M.A.

Room: LS 118b
Phone: +49 (0)203-379-3974
E-Mail: mona.saleh[at]
Staff Portfolio

Jasmin Schmitz, M.A.

Room: LS 118b
Phone: +49 (0)203-379-1919
E-Mail: jasmin.schmitz[at]
Staff Portfolio

Dr. Carmen Wunderlich

Room: LF 316
Phone: +49 (0)203-379-2043
E-Mail: carmen.wunderlich[at]
Staff Portfolio