An Exploration of Lonergan’s Method: Case Study of the Conflict in Western Sahara




Farrell, Brian

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Bernard Lonergan’s methodology for developing insights has a successful history in third-party dispute resolution. Practitioners such as Melchin and Picard have applied and expanded Lonergan’s frameworks in interpersonal and interfaith conflict analysis and resolution. Lonergan’s analysis, however, expands beyond gaining insights in third-party mediation. He connects cognitive process with cycles of human development, focusing on the relationship between insights and progress, and bias and decline. This research explores Lonergan’s methodology, discusses comparative analysis with realist frameworks, explores his concept of bias, decline and progress, then applies Lonergan’s methods to analysis of the conflict in Western Sahara. Using Lonergan’s analytical framework provides a method of objectivity. The territorial conflict between Morocco and Sahrawi nationalists entered its thirty-fifth year, with twenty years of stalemate for a referendum following a 1991 United Nations mandated ceasefire. The Kingdom of Morocco has not successfully negotiated that autonomy is the best option for resolution. The Polisario Front, the Algerian supported Saharawi nationalist movement, has not convinced the international community that Morocco operates outside international law in preventing self-determination through a referendum. Realist doctrine as an analytical framework, hindered from resistance to humanist insights proves insufficient for addressing intrastate conflicts, such as Western Sahara. In the fourth chapter, I develop Western Sahara as a case study to examine threats and cares for the stakeholders, bias, decline and progress, and through exploration of bias, historicity and meaning-making, authenticity and unauthenticity in authority. This research intends first to contribute knowledge in understanding application of Lonergan’s methods in intrastate conflict, and provide insights for analyzing the stalemate in Western Sahara.



Lonergan, Western Sahara, Subjectivity, Morocco, Bias, Method