Group Violence in America




Rubenstein, Richard

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School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution


“‘Group Violence in America: The Fire Next Time?’ is the second working paper of the Center for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. Both writings will come as a surprise to those who think of conflict resolution as being essentially a process, a process by which parties to conflicts are brought together and helped to transform their relationships. In fact, conflict resolution, as defined by the center in its Mission Statement, is more than a process. It is an approach to social relationships at all levels of interaction, from the family to the international, that seeks to take into account inherent human aspirations and needs of development, and that seeks to isolate those environmental constraints, political, social, and economic, which frustrate the attainment of such development. With such a perspective, conflict resolution is by definition a challenge to conventional approaches to public policies, in that its focus is on the person, not on institutions, except to the extent that institutions should be adapted to the needs of persons. This raises the time-honored question of the individual and the social good. But that question has in the past been posed by those who have an interest in the preservation of institutions in order to justify their positions. Now the question is being posed more to tilt the balance in favor of the person. It was for this reason that the first working paper posed the question whether conflict resolution was a political philosophy. Given that it is concerned with resolving deep rooted conflicts, that is, conflicts over fundamental human needs for identity and recognition that emerge, for example, in ethnic and class struggles, and given that it recognizes that such resolution may be possible only through structural change and fundamental policy changes, it follows that conflict resolution is in the arena of political analysis and change.”