Most countries emerging from armed conflict in the past three decades have actively addressed the question of reconciliation. However, confusion remains as to what reconciliation means to different people, to what extent meaning is contingent on demographic and socioeconomic factors, whether and how people’s experience with conflict shapes views and attitudes relevant for reconciliation, and how reconciliation intersects with other ongoing and parallel social processes.

In this paper, we combine quantitative and qualitative findings on these questions based on the case of Colombia. We conclude that the study and promotion of reconciliation should not be restricted to societies haunted by armed conflict, as violence-related social divisions are widespread beyond conflict contexts. Second, when analysed from a broader perspective, the path towards reconciliation requires a more fine-tuned understanding of how meanings and mechanisms differ, reflecting variation in the contexts of violence.