So, you’ve noticed how posting has been sporradic, at best, recently. Well, let me fill you in on what has been going on. Now that Spring Break is over, school has kicked into high gear with preparation for final exams and papers. I started my job with the Census Bureau two weeks ago and, though only prep work is happening right now, things will get really crazy when I start training Listers at the end of the week.
I’m all registered for the Summer 2009 semester. 15 credit hours (two of which are intensive, read short. One of those being only two weeks long) Will keep me plenty busy from May 15 – August 5.
We’re still getting over colds. At least one person in our house has been sick since the beginning of February, with only a short break in the middle. This cold and flu season has been murder on us.
Oh, I almost forgot. I need your help. I have a 10-15 page paper due in one of my classes and I’m having the darndest time coming up with a topic. For this paper we have been asked to
…take a position on a specific or narrow issue within the broad topic of conflict and resolution, and to argue for that position…
… it is very importatnt that you identify a narrow and focused position… (e.g., do resolutions to interpersonal conflicts, such as apologies, funciton as well at the collective level?).
I absolutely love, read hate, it when professors do this. “Pick a topic, any topic within the scope of this class, and write on it. Oh, by the way, the paper is worth 50% of your grade so don’t screw it up!” And yes, this paper is worth 50% of my grade for this class.
So, what suggestions have you? Conflict and resolution, on the individual or group level.
Here are the suggestions that I put forward (and no, my brain was not working because the subject is soooooo broad)
Q. The role of fear in offense vs defense. We know, or believe to know, the role of fear in defense, as it appears to be a tool for inciting people to action (fight or flight). But maybe I could look at it from the other side, how fear makes people act offensively. However, the more I think about it, the closer that those two positions sound to being extremely similar.
A. (Professors written response) I think you could consider writing a paper about fear and its role at multiple points in conflict. There is a [sic] literature on the physiological aspects of fear (and how close they are to the physiological aspects of anger) – look for work by Robert Levenson and his colleagues; there is almost certainly research on how threats (and the fear they presumably induce) are connected to the initiation of conflict – a topic we’ve discussed in class, and which might also be linked up to the collective level phenomena of pre-emptive strikes.
Q. In regard to international problem solving, many believe that multi-lateral discussion is the best method to use when reaching agreements. Does multi-lateral pressure in international negotiations exhibit the same behavior as peer pressure among teenagers?
A. This is harder to guide you on; particularly the analogy issue. For example, multi-lateral discussion may be valued for a variety of reasons, including the representation of multiple standpoints on an issue, and the engagement of the relevant vested interests. I’m not sure that the phenomenon of peer pressure has those elements – perhaps most especially the first one. If, on the other hand, you’re asking whether group dynamics might have overlap in those two very distinct contexts – sure…..in the sense that groups are vulnerable to particular kinds of dynamics in their deliberations and discussions (but for teens, peer pressure also unfolds in many ways that are not ‘located’ in the discussion space, but in other places).
Any ideas will be helpful.