The Limits of Social Cohesion: Conflict and Mediation in Pluralist Societies

The Limits of Social Cohesion: Conflict and Mediation in Pluralist Societies

The Limits of Social Cohesion: Conflict and Mediation in Pluralist Societies

The Limits of Social Cohesion: Conflict and Mediation in Pluralist Societies

Synopsis

This book, edited by renowned sociologist Peter Berger, is an important contribution to understanding the cultural fault lines that threaten social cohesion.

Excerpt

In a world of increasing public concern with conflict, this report is intended to examine normative conflicts and divisions in modern societies. At the same time, it aims at identifying solutions to these conflicts or strategies of mediation between the contending parties. The underlying research design is based on an international and intercultural comparative perspective, and the study embraces eleven countries representing many of the major cultures and regions of the world.

As modern pluralist developments eroded the unity of value systems, there is a range of potential reactions that societies and their responsible political leaders may resort to with regard to social cohesion. It would be futile to consider a "rollback strategy" to be a sustainable option in any regard. The solution to the problem cannot be found in the restoration of seemingly lost values of the past. Unanimity on normative positions cannot be forged in the melting pot of pluralist societies without doing harm to the very core of their pluralist character. Nor would a "laissez-faire" approach toward all normative positions be an appropriate notion on which to base social cohesion. Rather this study seeks the solution in a third strategy -- a strategy of containment, a strategy of accepting the diversity of different normative positions in society that at the same time is concerned with those mechanisms that help them to coexist. This report is therefore an assessment of the functioning of "mediating institutions," mechanisms of mediation that prevent normative clashes from becoming violent and that allow society to negotiate a settlement between the parties in conflict.

Today pluralism is not only a phenomenon within societies but also between them. In a world of globalized communications the interaction between nations inevitably involves normative conflicts of one kind or another, no matter whether the normative differences are genuinely believed in or only used to justify conflicting vested interests. Thus the issues discussed in this book concern not only domestic politics but international relations as well. This aspect of the matter has attained particular relevance as a result of the controversy swirling around the recent . . .

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