Postmodern Dispute Resolution: Historicity, Identity, and the Master Discourse

Robert Schehr, University of Illinois - Springfield

Global and domestic dispute resolution privileges expressions of political, economic, and cultural events that are consistent with prevailing hegemonic discourse. In international conflicts, efforts to reach agreements between disputants typically involve high-level negotiations between elected, appointed, or declared representatives of "the people." A similar process characterizes domestic dispute resolution in that mediators and negotiators privilege discursive expressions of events consistent with prevailing dominant cultural values. By way of contrast, a conflict intervention strategy informed by postmodernism and chaos theory exposes weaknesses in hegemonic dispute resolution practices, while identifying the complicated matrix of positions held by subjects at the level of the lifeword. Recognition of the considerable fluidity of positions and passions held by subjects provides new possibilities for recognition of both the ephemeral nature of any negotiated agreement, and the possibility that the real concerns of subjects will be heard.

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Updated 05/20/2006