In the UK, conflict resolution strategies have become increasingly popular within community development practice. Conflict resolution has been used to prevent homelessness, tackle neighbourhood disputes, address family conflict, facilitate community involvement, address discrimination and reduce anti-social behaviour. The promise of conflict resolution is that confidential and informal processes of ‘justice from below’ might better reconcile community interests, improve relationships and promote social change. Within the field of community development, these promises have been widely vaunted. However, outside community development, conflict resolution has been subject to extensive criticism. This article draws upon debates in legal scholarship to discuss four criticisms in particular: that conflict resolution disadvantages vulnerable groups, undermines social justice, suppresses legitimate grievances and mistreats public issues as private problems. It then considers these criticisms in relation to community development practice and explores potential solutions.
Critical Social Policy: A Journal of Theory and Practice in Social Welfare – SAGE
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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