OTPIC Officially Retired

As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.

The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.

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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

Contention Dynamics

by Paul Wehr

Opening Page | Glossary | Menu Shortcut Page


As a conflict emerges, the relationships of contending parties with one another take on a special character. Attention comes to focus ever more on the behavior of the adversary to the exclusion of any non-contenders involved. One justifies one's behavior increasingly by what the other has done rather than by any universal standard of correct behavior. A process Coleman (1957) has called reciprocal causation takes over so that the contenders come to form something like an independent social unit engrossed in tit-for-tat attack and defense behavior. Without some external intervention, such dynamics can lead to extreme force being used at higher and higher cost.

Links to Examples of Contention Dynamics:

Dean Peachy -- Thoughts on the Failure of Negotiations in the Gulf
The Gulf War was an example in which both sides focused on the evil character and wrong-doing of the other, leading to quick escalation and a very violent result.
Claude Rakisits -- The Gulf Crisis: Failure of Preventive Diplomacy
This is a second article examining the contention dynamics that occurred in the case of the Gulf War.

Links to Related Treatments

De-Escalation

Links to Related Problems

Escalation


Copyright 1998 Conflict Research Consortium  -- Contact: crc@colorado.edu