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How Can We Reduce Hyper-Polarization?

Heidi and Guy Burgess have long focused on how society – and our field – can deal with intractable conflicts.  They publish a newsletter, Beyond Intractability, that includes lots of thoughtful articles about this.

The latest issue features an article they co-authored with Sanda Kaufman, Applying Conflict Resolution Insights to the Hyper-Polarized, Society-Wide Conflicts Threatening Liberal Democracies, published in Conflict Resolution Quarterly.  Here’s an excerpt describing the central issues they see:

Our Executive Summary of the article that frames the hyper-polarization discussion starts by asserting that political hyper-polarization and the resulting political stalemate is the number one problem facing the United States and a great many other countries.  We believe it is more important than climate change, inequality, health, race relations, immigration—or any of the other so-called “existential” problems, because none of those problems are going to be successfully addressed, unless we can fix the hyper-polarization that has driven effective problem analysis and problem solving into the ground.  This raises at least three questions:

  • Is political polarization as destructive as we believe it is? Is it worth prioritizing its reduction? If so,
  • What can and should the conflict resolution field be doing to reduce hyper-polarization?
  • Are some of our activities actually contributing to it, rather than helping to reduce it? If so, what can and should we do about that?

The newsletter includes links to lots of other provocative articles and posts.

Take a look.

Read John Lande’s Blog, Click Here


John Lande

John Lande is the Isidor Loeb Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Law and former director of its LLM Program in Dispute Resolution.  He received his J.D. from Hastings College of Law and Ph.D in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He began mediating professionally in 1982 in California.… MORE

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