ON SLIPPERY ICE: BEYOND CONSENSUS Introduction
In this chapter I ask whether an objective of reaching deep or thick consensus rather than simply superficial or thin consensus is unattainably utopian. Does a proposal become so diluted in becoming consensual that it loses meaning? Are actors’ interests not transformed per se through collaboration but rather submerged or induced into conformity with group norms (Allmendinger, 1999)? Are some actors acculturated to acceptance of others’ arguments and decisions as a natural aspect of the social order (Brockner et al., 2001)? Do some actors’ cultures lead them to withdraw from communication rather than engage in conflictual debate in public (Crawford, 1990)? Does consensus thus create merely a false sense of closure and an illusion of stability (Bloomfield et al., 2001)?