Tensions Affecting International Understanding: A Survey of Research

Tensions Affecting International Understanding: A Survey of Research

Tensions Affecting International Understanding: A Survey of Research

Tensions Affecting International Understanding: A Survey of Research

Excerpt

The decision of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to include the study of tensions affecting international understanding as a major project in its program is a logical consequence of its concern with research and education in the maintenance of peace. Areas of tension between nations that regard themselves as most friendly are commonly evident in the words and actions of both public officials and private citizens. They are the foci of conflict in cold war and open hostility. Understanding of these tensions, fundamental to their relief, is so beclouded by stereotyped thinking, nationalistic feelings, catch phrases, and slogans that the need for objective study of their sources and of procedures for resolving them under the auspices of an international cooperative body such as UNESCO is self-evident.

International tensions and the techniques for their relief, however, have received very little direct research attention from social scientists who specialize in problems of social behavior. Traditionally, research in international relations has been mainly the province of historians, students of international law and procedure, and diplomats. More recently, and particularly since the experience of World War II demonstrated the practical utility of scholarly knowledge of foreign areas and peoples, there has been a marked increase in research designed to advance understanding of all parts of the world by area specialists with various disciplinary backgrounds. But as yet sociologists, social psychologists, and social anthropologists--the social scientists most directly concerned with problems of behavior--have done little research on international behavior.

The study of social behavior in general, however, has been much advanced in recent years. What individuals and groups do under given circumstances is in essence the generalized problem of the social sciences. The number of trained specialists who devote their lives to specific questions of this nature has grown . . .

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