The Distinction of Peace

A Social Analysis of Peacebuilding
Catherine Goetze
Investigates both the creation of the peacebuilding field and what the field reveals about global relations


“Peacebuilding” serves as a catch-all term to describe efforts by an array of international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and agencies of foreign states to restore or construct a peaceful society in the wake—or even in the midst—of conflict. Despite this variety, practitioners consider themselves members of a global profession. In The Distinction of Peace, Catherine Goetze investigates the genesis of peacebuilding as a professional field of expertise since the 1960s, its increasing influence, and the ways it reflects global power structures.

Goetze describes how the peacebuilding field came into being, how it defines who belongs to it and who does not, and what kind of group culture it has generated. Using an innovative methodology, she investigates the motivations of individuals who become peacebuilders, their professional trajectories and networks, and the “good peacebuilder” as an ideal. For many, working in peacebuilding in various ways—as an aid worker on the ground, as a lawyer at the United Nations, or as an academic in a think tank—has become not merely a livelihood, but also a form of participation in world politics. As a field, peacebuilding has developed techniques for incorporating and training new members, yet its internal politics also create the conditions of exclusion that often result in practical failures of the peacebuilding enterprise.

By providing a critical account of the social mechanisms that make up the peacebuilding field, Goetze offers deep insights into the workings of Western domination and global inequalities.

“Goetze’s contribution should be relevant and inspiring both for scholars interested in peacekeeping and in international political sociology.”
—Anna Leander, Copenhagen Business School
Catherine Goetze is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Tasmania.

Praise / Awards

  • "Goetze’s contribution is undeniable. Her work is convincing in making the point—oddly absent in existing scholarship—that individuals make up the institutions and organizations that implement peacebuilding...In this way, we cannot truly understand peacebuilding without first reading Goetze’s book."
    --Perspectives on Politics
  • "The strength of the book is in the analysis of the discourse on the field 
    and practices of peacebuilding." 

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 296pp.
  • 13 figures, 4 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2017
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07341-2

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  • $64.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2017
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05341-4

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  • $29.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2017
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-90076-3

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  • Sociology, habitus peacebuilding, social fields, globalization, international organizations, United Nations, peace missions, Pierre Bourdieu, international professionalism, global power