chapter  3
16 Pages

Perspectives on Consensus-Building in Planning

In a recent paper A.O. Hirschman (1994), discussing social paradigms centered on the resurgence of a call for common and shared values, pleads for an understanding of conflict as a constructive and constitutive element of social relations, as a source of its strength and ability to innovate. According to this view, the possibility of integration within modem societies, contrary to commonsense in social thinking, derives from their ability to develop across conflicts, and to constitute capabilities in dealing with the insurgence and variety of conflicts. In modem societies, according to Hirschman, conflicts might just as well be sources for building social capital as they might be factors for the dissolution of social bonds. Their definition, however, either as opportunities or threats, as ‘constructive’ or ‘destructive’ conflicts, is itself subject to change as the rationale of politics is changing; as such, their very nature in this respect is hard to assess, and their identification is only possible through experiencing them.