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

Balanced Sociation; Safety Valves

Paul Wehr

Opening Page | Glossary | Menu Shortcut Page

Balanced sociation would be a conscious effort by a society to make both cooperation and conflict prominent in public consciousness, formal education, and public investment. The assumption would be that a continuing tension between the two is important for stable and productive social relations. Aho (1994) speaks of "tension-wisdom" developing within a society like the United States; its members growing increasingly tolerant of disagreement and difference and learning how to live with it more creatively and productively.  An important requisite for a society with its positive and negative relations in balance would be a relatively equitable distribution of wealth and life chances across the social structure. Another guarantor of balanced sociation would be the presence of what Coser (1956) has termed "safety valve" mechanisms, institutions permitting social and interpersonal conflict at minimal cost: nonviolent social movements; institutional third parties such as court systems and mediators; ritualized conflict in sport; training in non-injurious defense and fighting methods such as the martial arts.  Balanced sociation could be produced through a society's education process. Skills at opposing constructively would be taught alongside those of cooperating and "getting along." Relations with one's opponent would be understood in both their associative and dissociative dimensions. Both competitive and cooperative conflict resolution would be taught as art forms in the schools. Mediators, arbitrators, national defense specialists and other conflict professionals would learn how to balance sociation in their work. 

Links to Examples:

Paul Wehr--Civil Disobedience
This example illustrates both balanced sociation and the use of safety valves to prevent uncontrolled escalation.


Links to Related Approaches

Use of the integrative system to respond to and end force

Re-establish / Empower Traditional or New Conflict- Management Institutions


Links to Related Problems

Assuming Force is the Only Available Option

Supporting Literature: James Aho, This Thing of Darkness , Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994; Lewis Coser, The Functions of Social Conflict , New York: The Free Press, 1956;

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