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Adversary and cooperationist institutions for conflict resolution in public policymaking

By Steven Kelman


Compared with other societies, the United States makes unusually extensive use of adversary institutions for resolving public conflicts-that is, institutions where the job of advocates is to present for a third party the strongest possible case for their own point of view and where responsibility for actual political choice is then left to the third party. This article presents a case for placing greater reliance on “cooperationist institutions,” that is, ones where parties talk with each other rather than to a third party and where the parties attempt to reach agreement among themselves, acceptable to most or all the participants, about the issue in question. The case for cooperationist institutions is argued in terms of the effects of such an institutional design on the development of public spirit among participants in the policymaking process. The article also considers objections against cooperationist institutions and concludes by making some suggestions about the concrete forms that such institutions might take in the United States.

DOI identifier: 10.2307/3325364
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