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Johan Galtung (born 24 October 1930) is a Norwegian sociologist, mathematician and the principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies.[1] He founded the Peace Research Institute Oslo in 1959, serving as its director until 1970, and established the Journal of Peace Research in 1964. In 1969 he was appointed to the world's first chair in peace and conflict studies, at the University of Oslo. He resigned his professorship in 1977 and has since held professorships at several other universities; since 1993 he has been Distinguished Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Hawaii. He was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1987.

Galtung is known for contributions to mathematics and sociology in the 1950s, political science in the 1960s, economics and history in the 1970s, macro history, anthropology and theology in the 1980s. He has developed several influential theories, such as the distinction between positive and negative peace, structural violence, theories on conflict and conflict resolution, the concept of peacebuilding,[2] the structural theory of imperialism, and the theory of the United States as simultaneously a republic and an empire.[3]



Galtung speaking at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City.

Galtung was born in Oslo. He earned the cand. real. (PhD)[4] degree in mathematics at the University of Oslo in 1956, and a year later completed the mag. art. (PhD)[4] degree in sociology at the same university.[3] Galtung received the first of nine honorary doctorates in 1975.[citation needed]

Galtung's father and paternal grandfather were both physicians. The Galtung name has its origins in Hordaland, where his paternal grandfather was born. Nevertheless, his mother, Helga Holmboe, was born in central Norway, in Trøndelag, while his father was born in Østfold, in the south. Galtung has been married twice, and has two children by his first wife Ingrid Eide, Harald Galtung and Andreas Galtung, and two by his second wife Fumiko Nishimura, Irene Galtung and Fredrik Galtung. ref>Genealogical data for Johan Galtung</ref>

Upon receiving his degree, Galtung moved to Columbia University, in New York City, where he taught for five semesters as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology.[5] In 1959, Galtung returned to Oslo, where he founded the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). He served as the institute's director until 1969, and saw the institute develop from a department within the Norwegian Institute of Social Research into an independent research institute with enabling funds from the Norwegian Ministry of Education.[6]

In 1964, Galtung led PRIO to establish the first academic journal devoted to Peace Studies: the Journal of Peace Research.[6] In the same year, he assisted in the founding of the International Peace Research Association.[7] In 1969 he left PRIO for a position as professor of peace and conflict research at the University of Oslo, a position he held until 1978.[6]

He then served as the director general of the International University Centre in Dubrovnik, also serving as the president of the World Future Studies Federation.[8] He has also held visiting positions at other universities, including Santiago, Chile, the United Nations University in Geneva, and at Columbia, Princeton and the University of Hawaii.[9] He has served at so many universities that he has "probably taught more students on more campuses around the world than any other contemporary sociologist".[8] Galtung is currently teaching courses in the Human Science Department at Saybrook University.[10]

In December 2010, Galtung gave a lecture entitled "Breaking the Cycle of Violent Conflict" at the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series.

Galtung is a prolific researcher, having made contributions to many fields in sociology. He has published more than 1000 articles and over 100 books.[11] Economist and fellow peace researcher Kenneth Boulding has said of Galtung that his "output is so large and so varied that it is hard to believe that it comes from a human".[12] He is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.[13]

Mediation for peace

Galtung experienced World War II in German-occupied Norway, and as a 12 year old saw his father arrested by the Nazis. By 1951 he was already a committed peace mediator, and elected to do 18 months of social service in place of his obligatory military service. After 12 months, Galtung insisted that the remainder of his social service be spent in activities relevant to peace, to which the Norwegian authorities responded by sending him to prison, where he served six months.[5]

While Galtung's academic research is clearly intended to promote peace, he has shifted toward more concrete and constructive peace mediation as he has grown older. In 1993, he co-founded TRANSCEND: A Peace Development Environment Network,[14][non-primary source needed]

an organization for conflict transformation by peaceful means. There are four traditional but unsatisfactory ways in which conflicts between two parties are handled:
  1. A wins, B loses;
  2. B wins, A loses;
  3. the solution is postponed because neither A nor B feels ready to end the conflict;
  4. a confused compromise is reached, which neither A nor B are happy with.

Galtung tries to break with these four unsatisfactory ways of handling a conflict by finding a "fifth way", where both A and B feel that they win. The method also insists that basic human needs – such as survival, physical well-being, liberty, and identity – be respected.[citation needed]

Major ideas

Galtung first conceptualized peacebuilding by calling for systems that would create sustainable peace. The peacebuilding structures needed to address the root causes of conflict and support local capacity for peace management and conflict resolution.[15]

Galtung has held several significant positions in international research councils and has been an advisor to several international organisations. Since 2004 he has been a member of the Advisory Council of the Committee for a Democratic UN.

He has also written many empirical and theoretical articles, dealing most frequently with issues of peace and conflict research. His work is distinguished by his unique perspective as well as the importance he attributes to innovation and interdisciplinarity.

He is one of the authors of an influential account of news values which are the factors which determine what coverage is given to what stories in the news. Galtung also originated the concept of Peace Journalism, which is increasingly influential in communications and media studies.

Galtung is strongly associated with the following concepts:

  • Structural violence - widely defined as the systematic ways in which a regime prevents individuals from achieving their full potential. Institutionalized racism and sexism are examples of this.
  • Negative vs. Positive Peace - introduced the concept that peace may be more than just the absence of overt violent conflict (negative peace), and will likely include a range of relationships up to a state where nations (or any groupings in conflict) might have collaborative and supportive relationships (positive peace).

He has also distinguished himself in public debates concerning, among other things, less-developed countries, defence issues, and the Norwegian EU debate. In 1987 he was given the Right Livelihood Award. He developed the TRANSCEND Method described above. Economist and fellow peace researcher Kenneth Boulding has said of Galtung that his "output is so large and so varied that it is hard to believe that it comes from a human".[12]



During the course of his career, some of Galtung statements and views have drawn criticism. A 2007 article by Bruce Bawer published in City Journal magazine and a subsequent article in February 2009 by Barbara Kay in the National Post criticised some of Galtung's statements. Both authors criticized Galtung's opinion that while Communist China was "repressive in a certain liberal sense", Mao Zedong was "endlessly liberating when seen from many other perspectives that liberal theory has never understood" because China showed that "the whole theory about what an 'open society' is must be rewritten, probably also the theory of 'democracy'—and it will take a long time before the West will be willing to view China as a master teacher in such subjects." The authors also criticized Galtung's opposition to Hungarian resistance against the Soviet invasion in 1956 and his description in 1974 of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov as "persecuted elite personages".[16][17] Both of the aforementioned articles alleged that he has suggested that the annihilation of Washington, D.C., would be a fair punishment for America's arrogant view of itself as "a model for everyone else". Bawer additionally argued that Galtung was best described as "lifelong enemy of freedom." However, Galtung has called the September 11 attacks "criminal political violence".[18]

In April 2012, some Norwegian commentators accused Galtung of antisemitism after he published a column in the magazine Humanist. Galtung denied the allegations.[19][20] The Israeli newspaper Haaretz made similar accusations against Galtung in May 2012 for: (1) suggesting the possibility of a link between the 2011 Norway attacks and Israel's intelligence agency Mossad; (2) maintaining that "six Jewish companies" largely control the US media; (3) identifying what he contends are ironic similarities between the banking firm Goldman Sachs and the conspiratorial antisemitic forgery Elders of Zion; and (4) theorizing that although not justified, anti-Semitism in post–World War I Germany was a predictable consequence of German Jews holding influential positions.[21] As a result of such statements, in May 2012 TRANSCEND International, an organisation co-founded by Galtung, released a statement attempting to clarify his opinions.[22] On August 8, 2012, the World Peace Academy in Basel, Switzerland announced it was suspending Galtung from its organization, citing what it posited were his "reckless and offensive statements to questions that are specifically sensitive for Jews."[23]

Selected works

Galtung has published more than a thousand articles and over a hundred books.[11][non-primary source needed]

  • Statistisk hypotesepröving (Statistical hypothesis testing, 1953)
  • Gandhis politiske etikk (Gandhi's political ethics, 1955, with philosopher Arne Næss)
  • Theory and Methods of Social Research (1967)
  • Members of Two Worlds (1971)
  • Fred, vold og imperialisme (Peace, violence and imperialism, 1974)
  • Peace: Research – Education – Action (1975)
  • Europe in the Making (1989)
  • Global Glasnost: Toward a New World Information and Communication Order? (1992, with Richard C. Vincent)
  • Peace By Peaceful Means: Peace and Conflict, Development and Civilization (1996)
  • Johan uten land. På fredsveien gjennom verden (Johan without land. On the Peace Path Through the World, 2000, autobiography for which he won the Brage Prize)
  • 50 Years: 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives (2008)
  • Democracy – Peace – Development (2008, with Paul D. Scott)
  • 50 Years: 25 Intellectual Landscapes Explored (2008)
  • Globalizing God: Religion, Spirituality and Peace (2008, with Graeme MacQueen)[24]

Selected awards and recognitions

  • Dr honoris causa, University of Tampere, 1975, peace studies
  • Dr honoris causa, University of Cluj, 1976, future studies
  • Dr honoris causa, Uppsala University, 1987, social sciences
  • Dr honoris causa, Soka University, Tokyo, 1990, peace/buddhism
  • Dr honoris causa, University of Osnabrück, 1995, peace studies
  • Dr honoris causa, University of Torino, 1998, sociology of law
  • Dr honoris causa, FernUniversität Hagen, 2000, philosophy
  • Dr honoris causa, University of Alicante, 2002, sociology
  • Dr honoris causa, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, 2006, law
  • Honorary Professor, University of Alicante, Alicante, 1981
  • Honorary Professor, Free University of Berlin, 1984–1993
  • Honorary Professor, Sichuan University, Chengdu, 1986
  • Honorary Professor, Witten/Herdecke University, Witten, 1993
  • Distinguished Professor of Peace Studies, University of Hawaii, 1993-
  • John Perkins University Distinguished Visiting Professor, 2005-
  • Right Livelihood Award, 1987
  • First recipient of the Humanist Prize of the Norwegian Humanist Association, 1988
  • Jamnalal Bajaj International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values, 1993[25]
  • Brage Prize, 2000
  • First Morton Deutsch Conflict Resolution Award, 2001
  • Honorary Prize of the Norwegian Sociological Association, 2001
  • Premio Hidalgo, Madrid, 2005
  • Augsburg Golden Book of Peace, 2006
  • Member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
  • Honorary member of the Green Party, 2009
  • Erik Bye Memorial Prize, 2011


  1. John D. Brewer, Peace processes: a sociological approach, p. 7, Polity Press, 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Johan Galtung", Norsk Biografisk Leksikon
  4. 4.0 4.1
  5. 5.0 5.1 Life of Johan Galtung (in Danish)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 PRIO biography for Johan Galtung
  7. History of the IPRA
  8. 8.0 8.1 (E. Boulding 1982: 323)
  9. Dagens Nyheter 2003-01-15.
  11. 11.0 11.1 TRANSCEND biography on Johan Galtung
  12. 12.0 12.1 (K. Boulding 1977: 75)
  13. Gruppe 7: Samfunnsfag (herunder sosiologi, statsvitenskap og økonomi). Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. URL accessed on 26 October 2009.
  15. PEACEBUILDING & THE UNITED NATIONS Peacebuilding Support Office, United Nations
  16. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named The Peace Racket
  17. Barbarians within the gate by Barbara Kay, National Post, February 18, 2009.
  18. "September 11 2001: Diagnosis, Prognosis, Therapy" by Johan Galtung
  19. Galtung: Dette er en av grunnene til at jeg forlot Norge VG, 26 April 2012 Template:Maria Mikkelsen
  20. Martin Herman Wiedswang Zondag: Dette er ganske vill lesing fra Galtung NRK, 24 April 2012 Template:No icon
  21. includeonly>Aderet, Ofer. "Pioneer of global peace studies hints at link between Norway massacre and Mossad", 30 April 2012. Retrieved on 7 September 2012.
  22. TRANSCEND International's Statement Concerning the Label of anti-Semitism Against Johan Galtung. TRANSCEND International. URL accessed on 8 September 2012.
  23. includeonly>Weinthal, Benjamin. "Swiss group suspends 'anti-Semitic' Norway scholar", August 9, 2012. Retrieved on August 11, 2012.
  24. Johan Galtung's Publications 1948-2010. URL accessed on 8 September 2012.
  25. Jamnalal Bajaj Awards Archive. Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation.


  • Bawer, Bruce. 2007. "The Peace Racket". City Journal. Summer 2007. Link.
  • Boulding, Elise. 1982. "Review: Social Science—For What?: Festschrift for Johan Galtung." Contemporary Sociology. 11(3):323-324. JSTOR Stable URL
  • Boulding, Kenneth E. 1977. "Twelve Friendly Quarrels with Johan Galtung." Journal of Peace Research. 14(1):75-86. JSTOR Stable URL

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