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This article examines the assumptions that underlie theories of conflict management and asks whether traditional means used to ameliorate violent conflict are appropriate given the complex interrelationships that typify life in war zones. By applying Pierre Bourdieu's concept of habitus we argue that intervention in violent conflict is limited by both the policymakers' and the intervenors' own life experiences and cultures. This curtails the range of alternatives that are “perceived” to be available for managing conflict. We use the example of United Nations peacekeeping as a means of illustrating the limitations of current conflict management techniques as they are applied at the ground level. The article concludes with a discussion of typical approaches to conflict management used by peacekeepers and ways that such environmentally and culturally constrained thinking can be overcome.