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What Is Cultural Conflict Resolution?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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Cultural conflict resolution is a specific kind of social process meant to assist in solving difficulties associated with group or individual conflicts. Cultural or cross-cultural conflict resolution is a particular type of conflict resolution in which cultural theory becomes valuable in providing resolution. As a complex process, cultural conflict resolution is not strictly a legal process, although it does often have legal components.

Different kinds of cultural conflict resolution apply to individual conflicts, including those leading to litigations, as well as group conflicts, such as conflicts between state governments. These diverse types of conflict resolution go by titles like diplomacy, peace-building, mediation, or community problem-solving. Often, these processes are facilitated by professionals who have qualifications related to individual or group psychology, the law, or social sciences.

As an alternative to some formal legal processes, cultural conflict resolution often falls into a category also including more concrete legal processes like mediation or arbitration, where the opposing points of view are mediated by a third party for a binding resolution, rather than being decided before a judge with each party’s legal counsel arguing their case. Cultural types of conflict resolution related to a legal case can take many forms. For example, the management of a company might work with a union of rank and file workers through conflict resolution.

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Cultural conflict resolution is one of several social processes that take a consultative approach, rather than the rather punitive approach favored in many state justice systems. Part of the ideology around this sort of treatment of conflicts is that the parties themselves can benefit more from a frank and honest discussion of grievances as opposed to a top-down, relatively non-empowering surrendering of the issue to a local or state court. Conflict resolution professionals often provide anecdotal or other evidence that this sort of problem-solving can generally benefit the community as a whole, while possibly lightening the burden on a formal justice system.

In the various fields of cultural conflict resolution, aspects of an individual’s culture become prominent parts of overall analysis. Aspects of cultural types of conflict resolution can include considering how the morals and history of a long-existing culture group can influence the prosecution of a very modern and current conflict, and how the values of a culture can assist in de-escalating any given issue that proves controversial. At its most extreme frontiers, cultural conflict resolution has been applied, not only to humans, but to various animal communities, though this sub-field does not typically yield the kinds of concrete results associated with human conflict resolution.

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