This chapter offers the theoretical framework for the sociological analysis of peacebuilding. Its aim is to set two core arguments of the book: firstly that peacebuilding processes have a plural, improvised and contradictory nature; and secondly that resistance is rooted in the coercive and extractive practices of war and state-making and not in an international-local contention. This does not try to demonise peacebuilding and romanticise resistance – quite the opposite – the sociological approach highlights the continuous transformations and contestations that actors and processes in a ‘post-war’ setting go through.
This chapter develops the framework of resistance. It defines everyday resistance as the practices of individuals and collectives in a subordinated position to mitigate or deny the claims made by elites and the effects of domination, while advancing their own agenda. The chapter proposes a categorisation of two different practices following different levels of engagement against authority claims: claim-regarding acts (tax evasion against tax levy, mockery of authorities’ claims to deference) and self-regarding acts (subversion of peacebuilding vocabulary to further peasant agendas, taking over the delivery of social services and goods changing with it modes of social organisation and political order). This gradation improves the everyday framework by including different practices and going beyond the dichotomies in the resistance literature around intentionality, violence and non-violence, and direct and indirect practices.