Democratizing Leadership: Pre-conflict Preventative Peacebuilding


Justice and Peace Studies



Document Type

Book Chapter


democratizing leadership, pre-conflict countries, preventative peacebuilding, social movement organizations, democracy, agonistic pluralism




Peacebuilding is often premised on international intervention in post-conflict situations. This epilogue extends the concept to address preventative peacebuilding in pre-conflict societies. Social movement organizations that spring from democratically oriented movements can either reproduce dominant and dominating leadership styles, or they can cultivate democratizing leadership (Klein, 2016) by developing democratic practices, structures, and cultures within and between organizations. Democratizing leadership promotes leadership as a verb more than a noun: as the operation of power in relationship between people, rather than as positional power grounded in an authority figure. In democratizing leadership, democratic decision-making is preceded by the development of individual and collective voice and followed by responsible collective action. In addition to these processes, democratic values are also essential, including: freedom (differentiated from autonomy), justice (procedural, social, and restorative justice), and equity (more than equality), which underlie structural processes and inform practices. When social movement organizations find creative tension between ad hoc leadership and the tendency toward bureaucratization, they can cultivate a democratic culture through organizational practices and structures for preventative peacebuilding work. Leadership in such organizations recognizes and utilizes creative conflict to sustain agonistic pluralism and promote conflictual consensus (Mouffe, 2013). This epilogue provides examples of democratizing leadership from social movement organizations, including: In the Heart of the Beast Theater, Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, Neighborhood Leadership Program, and the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs, that illustrate how democratizing leadership can be developed in pre-conflict preventative peacebuilding organizations by integrating democratic practices, structures, and cultures.

Published in

Peace, Reconciliation and Social Justice Leadership in the 21st Century: The Role of Leaders and Followers

Citation/Other Information

Klein, M. (2019). Democratizing Leadership: Pre-conflict Preventative Peacebuilding in Peace, Reconciliation and Social Justice Leadership in the 21st Century: The Role of Leaders and Followers (pp. 295-304). https://doi.org/10.1108/S2058-880120190000008021