1st Edition

Overcoming Social Division Conflict Resolution in Times of Polarization and Democratic Disconnection

By Anatol Valerian Itten Copyright 2019
    178 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    178 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Locked in our worldview communities and polarised through increasingly radical campaigning, we are anxious of today's great uncertainty and our politicians have little incentive to reach across party lines. The problem of social division is real. The Brexit vote led to the highest spike in hate crimes in Britain ever recorded and heated situations like the far-right rally in Charlottesville, USA are increasingly boiling over.

    Overcoming Social Division is not another book about dying democracies, because horror scenarios don't make you act. Instead, it is an optimistic response on what can be done, and about how we can coexist in fragmented and polarised societies. Anatol Valerian Itten explains how public conflict resolution, civic fusion and mediative decision making help us re-learn the ability to find common ground on controversial issues with our fellow citizens, whom we tend to assume believe more extreme things than they really do.

    This book takes the reader through empirical key factors, obstacles and blind spots and provides helpful guidelines for everyone interested in mitigating social division and resolving conflicts. The author's insights are based on his experience in conflict management, a study of dozens of public conflict resolution cases and surprising stories of over twenty interviewed mediators. Overcoming social division can be a strenuous task. But talking to our enemies is necessary if we don't want to end up in dysfunctional democracies, and it can be a more rewarding experience than we might think.

    This is a fascinating read for students and academics interested in conflict resolution and public participation from psychology, social sciences, law, and related disciplines. It is also a unique resource for professionals including officials, mediators, lawyers and other practitioners dealing with conflict and public participation.

    Introduction I. {disrupted societies} II. {overcoming social division} III. {the purposes of public conflict resolution} IV. {success and failure in public conflict resolution} V. {conflict resolution outcomes} VI. {analysing conflict resolution cases} VII. {brakes and accelerators to public conflict resolution} VIII. {blind spots and guidelines} IX. {keep on talking to your enemy}


    Anatol Valerian Itten completed a PhD in Political Science at the University of Lucerne and is a Managing Director at the Disrupted Societies institute in Amsterdam. He worked at the German Ministry for the Environment for the UN climate conference and was a research fellow at the University of Amsterdam. His insights on public conflict resolution have been published in international peer-reviewed journals and books.

    "Anatol Valerian Itten helps us make sense of the intensity of our current social conflicts and provides a thorough analysis of the state of public policy mediation today. His analysis of a vast array of cases and particularly, our blind spots, is a must read for practicing mediators and academics." - Susan Podziba, author of Civic Fusion: Mediating Polarized Public Disputes

    "This is an impressive analytical and empirical study on the conditions of successful mediation processes. The study closes the gap between the analytical and empirical focus of mediation research and the normative aspirations of deliberative theory, and provides rich ideas for how mediation ‘writ large’ can contribute to more viable schemes of coexistence in our fragmented and polarized societies." - André Bächtiger, University of Stuttgart, Germany