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Sociopolitical Dynamics

  • Alan Miller
Part of the Springer Series on Environmental Management book series (SSEM)

Abstract

Environmental problem solving is a collective effort requiring sustained cooperation between many different kinds of people. Sometimes this cooperation is achieved without incident, but more commonly there is conflict and confrontation between protagonists who “face one another in a spirit of exasperation, talking past each other in mutual incomprehension… a dialogue of the blind talking to the deaf”1 (p. 33). As we have seen, one of the main reasons for this maladaptive behavior is the collision of incompatible personality types. However, this is only part of the story because individual behavior is, in turn, controlled by a variety of social pressures that, at times, compel us to behave in ways that are inconsistent with our wishes or personal inclinations. Thus, we are embedded in a nested series of social groups, each of which imposes a set of constraints on our behavior. While these social rules and obligations may constrain our individual agency, they serve to structure our lives in such a way as to make collective action, such as problem solving, possible. The influence of these social institutions on problem solving is, therefore, a crucial feature in understanding the barriers to adaptive change. In what follows, I discuss the effect of sociopolitical factors on problem solving in work groups, organizations, and, finally, within the broader society. Much of the discussion focuses on conflict within each of these levels of social orga-nization, especially power struggles among those who wish to control events. Thus, this chapter deals with the structure and dynamics of problem-solving systems, particularly conflict and cooperation at the intragroup, organizational, and intergroup levels.

Keywords

Natural Resource Public Participation Environmental Justice Social Defense Forest Policy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada

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