Disputes as Complex Social Events: On the Uses of Positioning Theory
How can social psychology contribute to the resolution of seemingly intractable conflicts? A new and promising approach to this conundrum has come from the most recent developments in that field—from what is termed "positioning theory." If there were a way of bringing to light underlying patterns in the expression of conflicts, persisting patterns that serve to maintain the hostile stances of the antagonists, a change in such patterns might make the expression of conflict more difficult. In a way, the conflict might thereby be resolved. If a conflict can no longer readily find expression, then in a sense, it ceases to exist. In this presentation, we outline the basic principles of positioning theory and illustrate how they can be put to work to reveal some of the sustaining narrative forms that nourish conflict. There are no general forms. Every instance is unique.