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Sample essay topic, essay writing: How Personal, Organizational, And Cultural Values Affect Decision Making - 2150 words
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.. Gandhian conflict simultaneously provides for confrontation and maximizes the potential for conciliation. Gandhi developed a delicate mix of polarizing and conciliatory tactics that both produced and moderated confrontation. His view of conflict as the joint pursuit of truth rejected absolute ideological and tactical positions, thereby restraining the polarization process.3. Distortion of information. As the conflict grows, according to Coleman, informal communication modes supplement and may even replace formal media as a result of an increased demand for information by more people who are alerted and involved.
Rumor, slander, innuendo, and inaccurate data tend to aggravate the conflict. The sense of threat is heightened between the parties as they become more secretive. What is the other side planning? The worst is imagined. Information that contradicts threatening images of opponents is filtered out. Gandhi's conflict style, countering this dynamic, maximized the flow of information between the movement and its opponents. His techniques and tactics were openly discussed
Steps in the campaign were made known to opponents beforehand. He used the mass media to acquaint everyone with movement plans. Misinformation and secrecy were eliminated, reducing perceived threat among opponents and lessening public fear and ignorance.4. Mutual reinforcement of response. Coleman emphasizes the process of reciprocal causation, the stuff of which conflict escalation is made. Cycles of hostile response develop and feed the polarization process. Negative images of the other party are continually confirmed.
Hostile acts call forth hostile responses that in turn evoke more hostility and so on. Conflict resolution is largely the discovery of a means to break into escalatory reciprocal causation and reverse its direction. Oberschall (1973:266) notes that reciprocity is also the basis for dispute settlement. The 'ethic of symmetry' requires that each give as well as take, and refrain from taking unreasonable and extreme positions.The Gandhian conflict style uses positive reciprocal causation. Nonviolent action theoretically calls forth a non hostile response from one's opponent. As I noted earlier, this principle may not always operate-where nonviolent actors are poorly trained, for example.
Even when the nonviolent actors are disciplined, the initial trauma of an unexpected nonviolent act contravening established custom and threatening privileged status may anger and frustrate opponents and encourage them to respond violently, as was often the case in the early months of the sit-in movement in the South (Wehr, 1968). The theory of nonviolent action asserts that while an opponent's initial response may be hostile, nonviolent response to that hostility will increasingly modify and ultimately transform it. The experience of the Gandhian and similar movements tends to lend supportive evidence to this proposition, although, as Bondurant observes, police excesses were common in official response to Satyagraha.An American journalist, Webb Miller, reported that after one raid on a salt depot he counted, in a hospital, 320 injured, many still insensible with fractured skulls, others writhing in agony from kicks in the testicles and stomach. (Bondurant, 1965:97)5. Emergence of extremist leadership. To curb the operation of Gresham's Law of Conflict (Coleman, 1957:14), by which extremist leaders increasingly replace moderate ones as the conflict heats up, Gandhi selected his first and second-level leadership carefully, and, as Sharp (1973:470) notes, they were disciplined and trained thoroughly in preparatory periods before each campaign.
Wherever possible, Gandhi would lead a campaign personally, with his stature as a leader permitting him to control access to leadership positions. His pledge of nonviolence acted as a brake on extremist elements. The Gandhian principle of self-reliance also helped the movement to stay clear of alliances with other political forces that did not share its commitment to nonviolence. The emphasis on cooperative, constructive programs in each Satyagraha campaign reinforced the positive, creative aspects of the conflict technique. One was not challenging established norms and structures without exemplifying alternatives.
The habits of cooperation in improving sanitation, nutrition, and education were essential dimensions of the satyagrahi's role.Other Limiting Aspects: The principle of self-realization in Satyagraha was a conflict-limiting device in two respects. (1) Any conflict was viewed as a self-realization process for all parties involved. Such a view sees the opponent as one to be persuaded or one to be persuaded by, not as one to be eliminated, humiliated, or bested. (2) For the satyagrahi, the conflict was an empowerment process. Satyagraha as a technique gave the hitherto powerless a strength, a unique identity and status vis-`a-vis their opponents.
This identity producing dynamic encouraged symmetry in the conflict that reinforced its self limiting qualities. Violence is often a product of desperation and asymmetry in a power relationship. Satyagraha provided both a power balance that facilitated eventual conciliation with minimal violence and a concern for the opponent as someone with an identity deserving of respect.Coleman identifies a number of factors working for moderation of conflict in communities. Cooptation of the opposition, resort to normal techniques of handling problems, the existence of pre-conflict relationships that cross-pressure participants, identification with and investment in community institutions. Though Gandhi exploited these factors wherever possible, he was primarily concerned with institutionalizing new conflict processes, creating new rules by which conflict might be waged-encapsulating the conflict, to refer again to Etzioni's concept.We find, then, in Gandhi's model of conflict built-in inhibitors of violence, rancorous escalation, and extreme polarization; three processes that facilitate destructive consequences in normal conflict waging.
The specific self-limiting aspects discussed above are rooted in a conception of conflict as a truth seeking process in which the objective is not to win, but to achieve a fresh level of social truth and a healthier relationship between antagonists. This is what Bondurant called the Gandhian dialectic.In every case of Satyagraha the conflict is to be understood in dialectical terms. The immediate objective is a restructuring of the opposing elements to achieve a situation which is satisfactory to both the original opposing antagonists but in such a way as to present an entirely new total circumstance [emphasis mine]. (Bondurant, 1965:195)This rather innovative view of struggle, then, insured that the techniques of waging it would be self-limiting. The conception of struggle as truth seeking produces in Gandhian conflict an escalating dynamic somewhat different from the normal one, which Kriesberg has described:Having expressed hostility and coercive action against another party, the alleged reason for it assumes importance commensurate with the action taken. The cause is endowed with additional significance and there is increasing commitment to it.
In addition, as the other side reciprocates with coercion the threats and injuries suffered also induce feelings of loyalty and commitment [that justify] increased effort toward their attainment and the willingness to absorb, without yielding, the coercive efforts of adversaries. (Kriesberg, 1973:155)In the dynamics of Gandhian escalation, to the contrary, persuasion in theory replaces coercion, though, as Klitgaard (1971) notes, this did not always occur. The escalating commitment is not to 'winning' but to the discovery of the truth of social justice, a commitment that admitted the possibility of the opponent's truth.Gandhian philosophy does not exclude compromise as a device for the accommodation of differing positions at a point where conflict has not become explicit and basic principles have not been challenged. But, once conflict materializes the Gandhian technique proceeds in a manner qualitatively different from compromise. What results from the dialectical process of conflict of opposite positions as acted upon by Satyagraha, is a synthesis, not a compromise. The satyagrahi is never prepared to yield any position which he holds to be the truth. He is, however, prepared, and this is essential, to be persuaded by his opponent that the opponent's is the true, or the more nearly true, position.
In the working out of the Gandhian dialectical approach, each side may, of course, yield through dissuasion any part of its position. But this is not compromise. When persuasion has been effected, what was once the opponent's position is now the position of both antagonist and protagonist. There is no sacrificing of position, no concession to the opponent with the idea of buying him over. Non-violent resistance persuasion has carried the conflict into must continue until mutually agreeable adjustment. Such adjustment will be a synthesis of the two positions and will be an adjustment satisfactory to both parties in the conflict.
There is no victory in the sense of triumph of one side over the other. Yet, there is no compromise, in the sense in which each side would concede parts of its previous position solely to effect a settlement. There is no 'lowering' of demands, but an aiming at a 'higher' level of adjustment which creates a new, mutually satisfactory, resolution. (Bondurant, 1965:197)What unfolded in the Gandhian dialectic was a process similar in many ways to the consensus formation traditionally used by Quaker bodies and in certain traditional political systems (Bourdieu, 1962). No one wins or loses. Antagonists arrive at a 'meeting of the minds,' so to speak.Gandhi was ostensibly one of the opponents in the Satyagraha campaigns, but his style and commitment to the process made him, in a sense, a third party to the conflict. Kakasaheb Kalelkar, one of Gandhi's Satyagraha leaders, has called him a 'master in the art of synthesis'. This skill at facilitating a convergence of positions among antagonists is, unfortunately, impossible to analyze in any but a superficial way here.Applicability of the ModelIs the Gandhian model as a conflict regulation device transferable, in part or whole, to other conflict arenas? In fact, it has been adopted and adapted for use in other social movements.
For example, the Martin Luther King Jr. (1961), Cesar Chavez (Matthieson, 1970) movements for equal rights in the United States and the Danilo Dolci movement in Sicily (Mangione, 1972). Its tactics were borrowed by wartime resistance movements in Norway and Denmark and by the movement in Czechoslovakia in 1968, to cite the most prominent cases. It has been used effectively by groups and individuals not ideologically committed to nonviolence but who have recognized its practical value. Gandhian self-limiting conflict may provide future tactical possibilities for both liberation movements and civilian defense programs.Of equal interest is the potential applicability of parts of the model for conflict regulation in marital conflict, community disputes, and international peacemaking.
Its transferability will be of greatest where conflict involves the total identity of the opponents, where a restructuring rather than a mere reallocation of values is called for. Yet in most conflict situations the information maximization tactic would tend to reduce threat and encourage conciliation. Training people who are likely to be involved in inter-group conflict how to break into an escalating spiral with a non hostile response would help to regulate conflict. Training people to distinguish between antagonist and issue in their conflict waging is a third Gandhian tactic that would help limit conflict.One final conflict limiting mechanism in the Satyagraha approach that might be used effectively in conflict regulation training is that of timing. Conflict is rarely, if ever, waged 'on schedule.' Gandhian confrontation was self-limiting partly because it was well timed.
Runaway processes were precluded by careful, self-conscious weighing of each action and the opponent's likely response to it. Even in conflicts where maximization of gains is the primary objective for each party, training both parties and third-party intermediaries in timing and scheduling could increase the potential for conciliation.Satyagraha has several prominent weaknesses, however. For one thing, it is quite culture-rooted, with concepts like self suffering and nonviolence difficult to transplant. Yet the Gandhian method of creative confrontation is not as culture bound as is popularly believed. The research of Sharp (1970) and others suggests that many of the techniques of Satyagraha were borrowed from Chinese, Russian, and Irish nonviolent resistance movements.
While a major part of its genius lay in the way it was skillfully shaped out of Indian tradition, as a means of struggle it has had substantial cross-cultural transferability.The Gandhian movement was fueled by the charismatic leadership of one man, though it produced other men of somewhat lesser stature like Ghaffir Khan and Vinoba Bhave. When that leadership was withdrawn, the movement declined rapidly. Whether nonviolent movements are any more susceptible to such a dynamic than other movements is a debatable point, but with Gandhi and King, movement dependence on their leadership was both strength and weakness.A third possible weakness concerns the vulnerability of Satyagraha to cooptation by opponents. The confrontation/conciliation mix is an extremely delicate one and the movement may take much less than it could get from opponents in order to maintain the balance. Most revolutionaries would argue that compromise has no place in a struggle movement that it is only diversion.Finally, Gandhi's methods did not always work for even Gandhi himself.
A number of Satyagraha campaigns were abortive or produced violent confrontations. It will be interesting to see how successful the current resurgence of the Satyagraha movement in India will be. It has had some major successes in confronting corrupt governments in Gujarat and Bihar and the Desai government is committed to Gandhian principles, but it is too early to measure lasting impact.
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