‘Organic intellectuals’ as catalysts of change: working with young people in conflict and post conflict environments

Grattan, Alan and Morgan, Susan (2008) ‘Organic intellectuals’ as catalysts of change: working with young people in conflict and post conflict environments International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 2, (6), pp. 185-192.


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Using the concept of ‘organic intellectual’, this paper explores the role of the indigenous community activist who engages with young people who become involved, directly or indirectly in communal and political conflict. The research also seeks to compare the skills, strategies and struggles utilised in this process between conflict and post conflict situations. Given the ‘fluid’ nature of the notion of the ‘organic intellectual’ it will also explore the intra-communal ‘struggle’ between ‘organic intellectuals’ with differing and opposing ideological worldviews, for the ‘hearts and minds’ of young people who find their communities in the forefront of conflict. The ‘organic intellectual’, being of and from the indigenous community and with an understanding of that community’s ‘commonsense philosophy’, is in a unique postion to influence and ‘empower’ young people. Often in conflict situations, and due to the socio-political realities and experiences of their community, many young people find themselves under communal pressure to enter into direct action and conflict or to resist such involvement. Either way a decision of this nature carries with it far reaching sociological and psychological consequences for the young individual and the community. The ideological position and subsequent role of the ‘organic intellectual’ is particularly significant when communities are in the process of both ‘divergence’ i.e. moving towards conflict and ‘convergence’ i.e. in the process of reconciliation and reconstruction. As ‘organic intellectuals’ they are in a position to motivate their respective communities through their ability to understand and articulate the prevailing dominant ‘commonsense philosophy’ and world view. As such they may also be ‘catalysts’ for change either as key mediators or antagonists in the ‘divergent’ or ‘convergent’ process. This paper, and on-going research, explores the struggles, strategies and skills of the ‘organic intellectual’ in working with young people to empower them to engage in democratic political processes.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 1833-1882 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: organic intellectuals, commonsense philosophy, working with young people, conflict and post conflict environments, process of divergerence and convergence

ePrint ID: 63570
Date :
Date Event
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2017 17:24
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/63570

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