Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Affiliate Professor of Conflict Analysis, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University
Interviewed by Jennifer Goldman — 2003
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This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).
Q: Okay. So I have a general sense of the field that you're in and the work that you're doing. But before we really officially begin the interview I thought it would be great to have a better understanding of your background and the work that you're doing.
Q: And so if there are particular things that you're thinking about, it would be helpful for me to know.
Q: This would be the time to start there.
A: Part of my background is relevant here?
Q: Both, part of your background. Yup...and the work that you're currently doing.
A: Okay. Well, I have... I wear a number of different hats and I have done extensive research in the nature of scientific knowledge, philosophy of science in particular and published and lectured on scientific modeling, and agency and agendic models in particular and also scientific methodology. And to the degree that these are relevant to social psychology and social-scientific inquiry, I've explored the methodology and modeling techniques that are necessary and important for understanding social interaction. And that, obviously, is very important for conflict analysis. So I've been... One of my hats is as a member of the faculty of the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason and this basically involves evaluating...and this may be relevant for our discussion today....how to evaluate competing methods for analyzing conflict, and in particular, how to judge different modes of analysis and understanding conflicts. And this is closely related to social psychology, actually, these kinds of questions. So I think, it's very significant when I read some of the questions. I read the article you sent by Peter Coleman, and that was very prominent in that. So... What else should I say? What else would you like?
Q: Well, that's helpful and there's a bunch in there that I will definitely need to go deeper into and...just because... I don't have the frame of reference that you do.
A: Okay. You want list of books and articles and classes, things like that?
Q: Yeah. Actually, that is one component of what we're trying to gather. So what I may do is, during the course of the interview, as you mention names and articles , and things like that and...if you want to jot them down to remind yourself to e-mail me some stuff, that would be great. I would be happy to... You know, if that works for you, I think that would just be...
A: Well, you could also refer to my home page where have a list of my publications.
Q: Great. Perfect.
A: You know, so... I think one thing that's relevant is the book I published called Metaphors and Models: Explaining the Growth of Scientific Knowledge because in that I did detailed analysis of the neautrality of metaphoric ideas where the moment of creative insight or inspiration or failure, in some cases, how metaphor is basically an entry to original modes of thinking, as it were. Some people say paradyme. As you so importantly said in your letter. So... Anyway...so that book is information that's very important, I think, for understanding scientific inquiry.
Q: Great. That sounds like it would be a helpful book for me to look at.
A: But you might refer to my home page...
A: And, also...of course, I can send you stuff as I think is relevant.
Q: Great. Well, what I'll plan on doing is after the interview, either later today or tomorrow, I'll e-mail you to prompt you to send me what the home page address is and all that kind of stuff.
A: That's fine.
Q: Great. So you were talking about models and scientific modeling, and judging modes of analysis and understanding. And it would be great if you could dig deeper into what those things mean to you and...
A: Okay. Like for conflict analysis?
Q: Yeah... So, as close...if you wanna stay in the context of conflict analysis that would be great.
A: Okay. Well... All right. The notion of intractable conflict. Obviously, there's a great need for coming up with some clear and valuable methods for understanding intractable conflicts. I mean, this is, I think, one of the most pressing needs in the whole field. And, I mean, the mistakes of the past are well-known...that is mistakes with an overly rationalist view of analysis, you know, an overly scientistic view where you look at people under some test-tube. So the mistakes are well-known. So I think what is needed and, you know, it was suggested in the article, which I thought was excellent, by Peter Coleman...what's needed is basically methods...to some degree borrowing methods and transporting methods that have worked in other disciplines because obviously conflict analysis and resolution...the whole field is basically a development out of a variety of other disciplines. But specifically to international conflict or protracted conflict or protracted social conflict and so on. So... I mean, there's been a tremendous amount of research in social psychology for decades now on understanding social encounters and seeing the relationship between social encounters and identity. There's a very fascinating subject, study...different studies, of course and different ways to understand how humans or...excuse me...individual identities emerges out of social encounters. And so, therefore, the study of how people relate to each other is inseparable from the study of individual identity. So... By the way, stop me at any point.
A: ...for anything.
Q: I will. But I'm listening intently.
A: Okay. So the question here, and I think your questions that you raised in your cover letter, is really important...what are some alternative perspectives or paradigms that are, as it were, frame-breaking for understanding conflict. And when I hear paradigm talk, I think of metaphors, especially the metaphors that are most dramatic at the early stages of an inquiry. Certain metaphors, obviously, have driven development in every field...every social science field. And certainly metaphors have been very powerful in the early stages of conflict analysis...certainly Burton...metaphor of basic human needs, followed by Maszlo and others, of course. So the metaphors are very valuable because they provide an entry into a whole set of concepts and, as it were, how to frame some episode...some interaction or, if you wanna call it conflict...how to frame it with respect to certain basic categories, which give sense, you know, which give it sense or coherence or if you want to say meaning that is just to make it a coherent episode. And...so the metaphor is basically an entry to a whole way of thinking about this. And, of course, a way of thinking, you know, suggests a certain method for understanding this. So some metaphors...and so this is the question that I would ask: Which metaphors are particularly valuable and truthful and insightful for understanding protracted social conflict? I think that's really a crucial and fundamental question for progress in conflict theory. And it's not just the side light; it's not just something that is kind of like expendable. I think the wrong view about metaphor is that it's just didactic kind of window-dress; it's expendable waiting for, as it were, the real accumulation of data through theory. But the metaphor proves provides an entry, basically, for a whole way of thinking. So what metaphors are valuable for understanding intractable social conflict? Should I go on?
Q: Yeah, I'm interested. Well, I'm interested in hearing... now, the question is clear to me, and I'm interested in hearing what some of possible ideas are that you've had, you know, around what metaphors are more useful or less useful.
A: Okay. Well, there's a whole lot of literature in social psychology about the...about the way in which encounters can be studied, in particular, how social interactions can be understood through the narrative stories that are portrayed by the participants as they describe what happened or what might happen. So there are, as it were, methods of analysis that come out of looking at studying the stories about the episode. And the story...the narratology, basically, I think can be a very source of insight for exploring, of course, small scale social interactions. But those methods...and this is the project that I think is very valuable. The methods that have been developed in great detail for understanding, as it were, small-scale conflicts, you know, in therapeutic contexts and in conflicts among individuals, family dynamics and those settings. Those methods can be extended, I think, for understanding protracted social conflicts at a broader scale. And in particular what's valuable about the narrative is that the narrative basically provides or forces a question about the fundamental metaphors that are used by the group for their own identity. Okay, so this...and this obviously calls for examples...but what I think has been established and I think is very valuable is that in group identity and in individual identity, as it were, among a couple...a marriage therapy or a pair of people, the metaphors basically represent how the group with individuals identify themselves in relationship to the other...to other people and in particular it's the stories that are conveyed, basically, gives coherence to that interaction. And so, for example, there's... Well, there's obviously been a lot of analysis about the metaphors with Bush and...George Bush about talking about the enemy in the Iraq war. And these metaphors are very powerful about his conception of...not only what should be done against Sadam Hussein but also his sense of identifying what the...what America is and what the American identity is in relationship the evils of Iraq. And I think the metaphors are very clear and obvious. There's been lots of documentation and speeches, and I have a number of speeches here that I went through. And...where the enemy is demonized...obviously, we have here good versus evil. And he uses these terms often times...the civilized world as opposed to uncivilized...obviously a sense of crusader...the crusade against forces of evil, darkness, lightness and so on...all bringing to mind a kind of Messianic calling that he...Bush perceives is part of the American... it's not just a mission and it's not just, as it were, dealing with the immediacy of Sadam Hussein, it is a sense of group identity. And this is, I think, an extreme example, or at least...not extreme, but I think it's a clear example of something that goes on a lot with respect to protracted social conflict. So many of them involve an identity through religious myths and identity of the group that's given through these religious story lines. And there is... There's no shortage of examples. And, again, what's important here is that for Bush and for those people committed to these religious narratives, it is what makes...it is what gives coherence to their own identity in relation to the other, to the enemy or the forces of evil. And it's a whole worldview. And what's fascinating about some of these speeches and some of the analysis...the narratological analysis of conversation and speeches is that these words kind of sneak in and they seem rather innocent and, in some cases, rather innocuous. But really they project a moral order, obviously and an entire view...an entire worldview in some cases. I mean, in this example, you know, the Bush uses of course, the worldview of the Christian right. There are moral absolutes that exist and so on. And this assumes a certain position about the relationship between the government, religion and so on. And I'm not saying that that's inherently right or wrong. I'm suggesting that there's a mode of analysis here and a method of analysis that comes from narratological studies and discourse analysis, and this is very, very helpful for understanding protracted social conflicts. And there is... So there's a very close connection here. Excuse me. The challenge here...in a narratological analysis is to look at the way in which words are used, how the words, basically, assume certain moral standing, you know, within a group and between one group and another group, and how that...how those categories of identity basically project a whole order, whose set of moral prescriptions about how we should live our lives....obligations and rights and all of that. And that's... Obviously, that's not an easy task to do , necessarily...that is to go from a discourse analysis of the words...from that to a whole sense of, you know, kind of broad, moral...excuse me...broad social order or world order. But it is very doable at kind of small scale, and I think a number of people have done it when they have enough data. And in this case the data are the repertoire is a series of analysis over a long period of time...that is taking stock in providing detailed accounts of different narrative discussions. So...
Q: Can you give me an example?
A: ...with the accumulation of data and evidence and analysis of language here, we can establish, we, that is in doing analysis, we can establish, in many cases, a very clear picture of the moral standings among and between people, that is the moral standing of individuals within a group as well as the relationship, as it were, moral or social political relationship between one group and another group, which obviously is crucial for understanding protracted social conflict.
Q: Right. Now when you say 'moral', can you tell me more about what you mean by that?
A: Right. And that's a really crucial issue here, especially to overcome the mistakes of a...of a narrowly scientific, and I mean that in a kind of...coming out of like a behaviorist perspective. I man, behavioralist of the olden days would, of course study social phenomenon as...in terms of imperial attributes as if they were, you know, either stimuli or response and empirically attributable. So there's no sense of understanding the moral commitment between individuals. But it's quite obvious that if you think of agency or actions as a projection about purpose. I mean, any action, I mean, just in principle should be understood as intentional, which means it's what somebody should do or wants to do or intends to do. Of course, it doesn't always succeed, but that is something fundamentally important about action. So, any action assumes what should be done. I think that from this methodology of looking at narrative, we can identity the moral positions of participants. Let me put it more structurally or sequentially here. Social identity, from this perspective, from these methods, pre-supposes three factors or requires three facts of analysis. The first is the moral position of the participants...excuse me.. First, there's the moral positions of the participants. And the moral positions refers to the rights and duties and that one person or one group has in relationship to others. So, you know, my social identity, let's say at the University, means or...basically means that I have certain rights and I have, as it were, freedom. And also I have certain obligations, obviously. Moral position basically establishes what I am allowed to do and what I am not allowed to do. And I'm not presuming any universality here. This is, you know, socially determined by my institution and so on and my profession, and then obviously my identity in this country. So that the first factor of social identity.
Q: Social...? Okay. Yes.
A: Okay, the second factor for social identity is a kind of a conversational history of what has happened in the past. So social identity, say, well, who are you? Well, I'm somebody who did this and grew up there and traveled over here, and has a certain relationship to these people who I call my family, you know. So it's a conversational history of what happened in the past.. The third factor for social identity that's important, that needs to be articulated is the power...uhm...that the words of the stories have for what is gong to happen in the future. So if I say...if I convey a story about something that happened, it's not only a representation of the past, but it's a projection for what should happen, what I expect to happen in the future. And this is really brought out clearly when someone faces...when someone faces a kind of shocking episode. I man, this is, you known, been studied in social psychology. That's what's truly fascinating. When someone goes to a new place or someone encounters somebody and is suddenly stunned by what the say. For example, you go to work and someone says you're fired. Okay, and all of a sudden, as it were, out of the blue...not knowing what happened. And the listener hears that and they'd be stunned by this and, therefore, is forced to reconfigure his or her relationship to that workplace. It's not just a depiction of a lost paycheck, but it's a projection about a different kind of social relationship. Or if someone encounters their family member and suddenly they say, "I hate you!" then, out of the blue, that then is a projection about what might happen in the future. And so what I'm suggesting here is that the narrative that represents or gives sense to each episode has a certain power...in some cases it could have a kind of agendic power. It's an agent; it's an agent for making sense of the future. And in some cases, you know, if it's a story about something extraordinary or shocking, or really stunning...the narrative itself is an agent for change. So, you know, when we... Does that make sense? Should I go on?
Q: Well, let me jump in here with a couple of questions.
Q: yes, it makes sense. And when you... Well, let me think for a second. So...
A: Okay. Could I ask you to speak up a little?
Q: Oh, sure. I'll try my best. Is that better?
Q: Okay. I hope everything is okay with this phone. When you say that the narrative itself is an agent for social change, we've been now... You've been talking about the narrative as helping people really stay stuck in the whatever situation they're in.
Q: Because it's...okay...because the conversation is about the history of what has happened and that the narratives have the power to project what will happen in the future. So if people are stuck I a conflict situation, it seems like if those same words are projecting what's happening in the future, they're gonna stay stuck.
A: Exactly. That's right. Narratives can definitely be a source of rigidity and a source of kind of, you know, inflexibility.
A: Because that's obviously a Characteristics of many protracted social conflicts.
A: They can't break out of those narratives. So you were saying?
Q: Yeah. What's interesting to me is that now you're saying narrative can also be an agent for change.
Q: Okay. So it would be great to dig into what that might look like and how you think about that.
A: Well, the narrative...some narratives obviously have the potential...and this is a methodological challenge that you're suggesting or you're asking. Some narratives have the potential to, basically, force new modes of interaction and then, in turn, recommend or almost demand new identity...new sense of social identity...new categories of reality. So, for example, there's... I love reading about...obviously fascinating studies about the religious aspects...certain protracted social conflicts that are grounded in religious disputes. And we have somebody coming to my University named Marc Gopin, who is an expert on the Israeli/Palestine conflict. And he is suggesting, and this fits right in, I think to what I'm suggesting about narratology. He's suggesting that instead of looking at the commitment to religion as a source and a continued antag...a dangerous source and destructive source in this protracted conflict, we should look at certain metaphors of the family that come out of the Hebrew Bible as a catalyst for establishing new modes of dialog among the antagonists. Because this is, obviously, a part of the identity for certain, obviously, Jewish groups and also religious identity for the Arab countries. And in those metaphors...the metaphor of the family, and Abraham in particular...according to Marc Gopin...we find kind of the element for establishing a new mode of conversation. Now, to some degree, and this is Gopin's challenge, you know, to provide details here...the metaphor is imprisoning...is constraining...I mean, is, to the same degree... I mean, the danger here and the risk here to avoid is just to look at these metaphors as continuing the conflictual relationship.
A: But his argument is that there are certain moral categories and values that are established in this narrative in the Biblical story which can be exploited, as it were, for transforming the way in which the participants relate to each other...instead of hatred it would be harmonious interaction...to overcome the hatred by looking for, as it were, the values that are portrayed in these stories. So he's suggesting, in this particular case, and that's...again, I'm only talking about that particular conflict...is suggesting that the moral categories that are portrayed in these stories could have a value, as it were, kind of strategic value and could be exploited for a new way in which the protagonist of the conflicting agents talk to each other.
Q: So if we think about a metaphor, would you what he's saying is that Abraham is a metaphor that can be used as the Father of both Jews and Muslims? Is that...?
A: Exactly. That's a metaphor and that metaphor is an entry to, obviously, a kind of religious reality about what is sacred and what is profane, what is a moral order, and how does one group deal with another group? You know, how does one treat one's enemies, as it were, or overcome a conflict and he is exploring, in great detail, how within that story there are elements for overcoming... There's a power to this.
A: ...power to this that he's saying has not been tapped by, you know, the usual type of diplomatic exchanges. So that's one example. I think that is very suggestive and... I mean, for example, both Arabs and Jews are seeking to secure a home, to avoid conflict, to recognize the sacred land. They need security; they need safety. I mean, there are shared needs here. They need dignity, honor, compassion, and he's saying that certain elements in the story, basically, suggests a kind of recognition of the other.
A: That's a really crucial, strategic point. And it is a point that obviously comes out of the idea of identity theory...that is the conflicts are rooted in modes of identity, as we've seen many people that are in Iraq so it's obviously true.
Q: So if Abraham is one metaphor of a way to help people get unstuck, and before you were giving me metaphors that you've been looking at in George Bush's speeches that actually help people stay stuck, what are some other examples of metaphors that you've found useful to help people get unstuck?
A: I think the reference by Peter Coleman to the 'victimization' metaphor is very powerful. It applies to lots of countries. The victimization metaphor that was mentioned by Izar I mean, this applies to many Eastern European countries where they feel that they're victimized. I've done studies in...about the conflict between the Poles and the Jews in Poland. And they both, of course, identify very strongly or, basically, they incorporate the narratives of a victimization model. And these narratives, basically, include something that from the outside seems strange. What the narratives include is that the other group is not the legitimate victim. In some way, it...their own victimization narrative includes a denigration of the other narrative of victimization for the other side. And this is very common among... I mean, there've been any number of studies done to document how the victimization narrative, which, of course, is very, very common...how it includes a sense of denigration and, in some cases, you know, disrespect and even threats from the other side.
A: So I think the road or the way out here is to, as it were, redefine the kind of narrative... I mean, it's not a sense of eliminating or giving, you know, as it were, language or story line. But it's to redefine the narrative in a way that shows a kid of compassion to others who were also victims. I mean, the case in Poland is quite obvious.
Q: Can you say more about that example? How would you go about helping people to re-define the narrative or have you done that in the past?
A: Well, this would obviously involve... This could involve role-playing; this involves different methods of... Again, taking techniques, as it were, almost therapeutic techniques that have been successful in psychological counseling, you know, dealing with partners, and couples and family members and so on.... There's a tremendous amount of research on these narratological techniques that have been successful in, basically, kind of like giving the participants a new vision ...a new...a new visual... I'm not getting cosmic here, but thinking always involves a kind of visualization about what happens for and what could happen in the future. And the narratological techniques have been successful under certain conditions for giving people a kind of vision about the...about the plight of the other person. ...is giving individuals a sense...a different story-line which evokes a kind of empathy... The old idea of empathic understanding, you know, there's some merit to this.
Q: Right. But the empathic understanding is the result of new modes of conversation and the new story-lines that are suggested among the participants. So I think that those could be very valuable.
Q: Yup. I... It does seem fascinating to me and what's also interesting to me is that I as I start to do these interviews, I'm hearing links between some of what you're saying and I just recently interviewed someone who does psycho-drama... And it sounds like she's actually on the ground implementing some of the ideas that you're talking about. So I'm kind of making those connections as you're talking as well.
A: The psycho-drama is very valuable and, of course, it comes out of a lot of the social psychology of the sixties...out of Gophman and Garfinkel and some of the others. And then in the seventies, it was very successful. And I think what that does is really, as it were, in some cases gives a jolt to individuals. I mean, it just kind of stuns them to.. It's almost like a Gestalt twitch to visualize...to give a new frame to what was ordinary experiences. And, basically, obviously the challenge, obviously, is...first, to show individuals...the participants...that they are living through their own narrative...their own stories...kind of like, you know, one of the challenges is to say that your social order or the moral order that you're living under is not eternal, fixed and, you know, immutable. This is a very difficult challenge, obviously, especially with respect to social conflicts that are grounded in religious commitment. And... the challenge... The challenge is to show people that you might...that there might be another way in which the conversation could take place and another way in which the moral...social category can be articulated. It's kind of like repositioning. That's one of the challenges, I think of the analyst...of the practicianer...is to come up with techniques to enable the participants even to think about another way to position themselves...just the visualization of this is promising...or suggestive or valuable.
A: Does that make sense?
Q: And so if we're talking about paradigms and thinking about new paradigms (side A ends here.)
Q: ...about helping people get unstuck...one of the major messages that I'm hearing in which you're saying is that enabling people in some way...and in this case we're talking about it through narratives, to get into the shoes of the other person...feel the empathy of the other's person's story without necessarily needing to bring their own story to it....finding some way t generate that kind of empathy and also to enable people to reposition their own sense of what's happened to them and the stories that they've put on the facts...sort of...the things that actually happen...is one way that you're suggesting change can occur. Is that...?
A: If they hear... That's exactly right. If they hear the...let's say the enemy...their enemy and if they engage in the enemy in...through different kinds of narrative... I mean, let's say about the family relation, you know, this is a well-known technique, obviously, for dealing with conflict...to have groups on both sides. And, basically, one way to overcome the demons that...the demonization of the enemy...of the other is to talk about the shared values that they have with family members...with children or parents or whatever. And it's a different kind of narrative. And it almost forces the individual to look at the other in...with...you know...with a new mode of visualization...I mean, much more human and possibly compassionate. But it doesn't really haven't do with compromise. The language of problem-solving is very destructive...methodologically destructive here...that is the old, old for conflict...the early days of conflict theory, which focused on rational problem-solving methods...I think is totally useless for dealing with social identity. I mean, it's well documented. Once you talk about the relationship that's problematic or that...they have a problem between one group and another group, it suggests that there must be a solution; thee must be problem-solving strategies; there must be, as it were, compromise; there might even be a zero-sum situation. All of that language is destructive and unhelpful for these kinds of protracted social conflicts.
Q: And you think it's unhelpful because it doesn't address the actual problems that might have to do with social identity?
A: Exactly. Exactly. It cuts off the real fundamental, as it were, source of the conflict. Because with protracted conflict it becomes an identity issue, obviously; many have said; and yet in the old language of problem-solving, as it were, you know, just a conflict analyst engaging in rational problem-solving strategies. This... It's... That's superficial. It's superficial; it's misleading; and it really doesn't get to, as it were, the heart of... Because the obvious commonality among all protracted social conflict is this identification with the other. The conflict in many cases basically is part of a group identity, obviously...in so many cases...in Northern Ireland, Eastern Europe, Israel and others. And the rational problem-solving method, basically, is impoverished in that regard by not being able to tap into those...that source. So, you know, we talk about what's the cause of the conflict. Well, I think that the word 'cause' is very misleading here because it suggests that there's some, as it were, real-life entity or mechanism that generated the conflict, and that's really misleading. Because when we're dealing with protracted social conflict, the source of it is basically human identity. And it's hard to call that the cause. I mean, strictly speaking, that's misleading to say that that's the cause. But rather it does suggest the need for a different way in which people converse with each other. And the entry, I think to a new way of seeing a possible way out.
Q: And so in that are you suggesting that human identity is actually formed through the stories that people think and verbalize, and tell, and hear from each other to each other?
A: Absolutely. There is no such thing as an eternal essence of individual identity, you know, that's unchanging. Identity is basically a summation of all stories. And, of curse, as we gain new stories, you know, as the events unfold in our lives, not only does our identity change from these stories, but thee stories could bring with them a different frame of references, as it were, if you want to say different metaphors, different paradigms. And with those we could find the patterns of the past. So it's not at all surprising that people with new experience re-define their identity about past events...re-conceive what happens in the past. "Oh, this is what happened. I didn't understand it, but now I understand it." ...you know..."I didn't see it this way, but now with more experience I see that I was wrong and that person was right"...this happens all the time.
Q: You talked about the Abraham image or metaphor as one way of moving into a new story. Is there another example that you can bring forth?
A: The victimization stories are other examples in which we... I think the victimization cases are very powerful. I mentioned the cases I Eastern Europe about competing victimization stories, as it were. One type of situation with a victimization narrative is helpful...is to see the other side a victim...where the other side was an enemy. You know, I mean, in many cases when you have ethnic rivalry, the other side is an enemy, not a victim. And... So one valuable message is to have a group recognize that the other side could also be a victim as well...at least from past narratives...from past stories. And... So this is something happens very often ad might be valuable for analysis. So... What I'm suggesting is that one group, basically, kind of embrace a different way of telling stories, especially about the other person, in a way that establishes new positions....that re-positions their relationship...kind of like different mode of location through new story-lines.
Q: it's very interesting. I'm still... I guess I'm having trouble and I don't know whether the ideas are still... Well, let me just ask my question. I'm having trouble thinking about...in a real-live online situation...how you or someone would actually help these transformations take place. And I'm not sure how much you've thought about that piece of it.
A: Well, the way in which this should be done is to introduce different types of story-lines that are relevant between conflicting parties. So, again, in...Israeli/Palestinians' protracted conflict, there are so many possible story-lines...not just possible but actual story-lines that are used between the conflicting parties. There's a story-line about military power, you know one side has greater...Israel has greater military power than the Palestinians. There are story-lines about victimization. There are story-lines about political power. I just mentioned the religious history, you know, the thing that Marc Gopin has documented. That's just one type of metaphor that would be a valuable source of story-line...you know, between participants. There are story-lines about , of course, about family relations. They can talk about how they...their identity of one side is established through their relations among their family members, you know, making them more human. There are different story-lines that provide a different face for each...for people. In other words, what I'm suggesting is that in conflict, as it were, resolution. I don't like that word. I hate that word resolution, actually. Again, it goes back to the old problem-solving language. But in mediation and negotiation it's valuable to show the multiple faces of individuals, I mean, obviously. The multiplicity of social and oral positions of individuals, and, obviously, overcoming the enemy image; show the complexity. That's another thing...is it's valuable to show the complexity of each individual...is very complex....is the complexity of narrative. I mean, that is individual identity. Each individual is understandable as a complexity of narratives, of which, obviously, suggestion, new narratives to come, new sense of identity. So the techniques that would be valuable here would be to reveal the multiplicity of identities, as it were, the multiplicity of narratives between the feuding parties. It's kind of like new categories for social identity that these categories...in relation to the other...the one side sees that the other side is committed to their families, is committed to peace in certain ways...is defined by their religious values and so on...that this multiplicity of stasis, as it were, is something that needs to be brought out more clearly. And I think that is a valuable technique.
Q: And it sounds like this technique could be used on the inter-personal level, on the national level and everywhere in between.
A: Well, as I say, it's been very successful in social...in therapeutic techniques. I mean, the narratological techniques in psychology have been very successful for...as a small-scale cases between two individuals. And what I'm suggesting is many of those techniques can be extended to, you know, for understanding protracted social conflict in relating those conflicts to methods for group identity. That's a very close connection.
Q: So that political leaders, instead of the paradigms that George Bush...the metaphors that George Bush has been using...if he replaced those with different metaphors, you're saying that would have a tremendous impact on society and on the decisions that are made.
A: Right. Absolutely. The metaphors that Bush is using...these are the metaphors, obviously, from his religious world order. I think he really believes in these things, and it establishes a coherence. For him, it's what defines American Identity in contrast to the other. So the technique, obviously, is to kind of like introduce new story-lines and, hopefully, to reposition oneself in relation to the other parties, hopefully not conflicting parties. So I think that this would be very valuable.
Q: I can't thank you enough for sharing with me your view and the stories.
A: You're quite welcome.
Q: This has been really a wonderful conversation.
A: Is there anything else? I kind of talked a lot. But this is... I just think you're engaged here.. Conflict theory is in great need for new methods. There's no question about it. And some of these methods have to overcome I think the mistakes of the past...that is, the early days of conflict theory. And this would be very promising.
Q: Thank you. It feels good to know that we have your support.
A: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. And if there's anything else I can do for further conversation or whatever...
Q: Thank you.
A: I'm available.
Q: Thank you. We may very well take you up on that offer as this project kind of closes out phase one and moves into phrase two. And there are just a couple of details that I want to close out before we say goodbye. The first is just to let you know that we are planning on sending you the one hundred dollar honorarium for your participation in this project.
A: Okay. thank you.
Q: Thank you. And the way that will work is that I have a sample invoice that I can e-mail to you. And so if you fill it out and e-mail it back to me, we can then process the invoice and send you a check through the regular mail.
A: Fine. And you have my address.
Q: Well, that is part of the invoice procedure. I'm sure I have it, but on the invoice there's a space where it says, you know, 'your name' and 'your mailing address'....that kind o thing.
A: You're sending it by....electronically.
Q: Yes. Exactly. So I'm going to e-mail you a template of it and if you fill it out with your contact information and e-mail it back to me. It already says, you know, a hundred dollars...t Jennifer Goldman, etc.
A: Very good.
Q: Yeah. So we'll send... And then we'll send you out a check. And should want to use this...a clip from this interview on the web, we'll be sure to get back into contact with you.
A: Yes, I would...
Q: As we talked about before. Yeah. No problem.
A: I'm happy to do it, I just want to double check what is being set down.
Q: Totally understandable. And ten the last thing is that in the e-mail that I sent do you where I'll enclose the invoice for you to fill out, what I'll also do is I'll just prompt you with a couple of the names and references that you had mentioned so that you can, you know, e-mail as much as you can back to me...just because part of this project is really generating, as you can imagine, lists of reference, you know, tools, learning materials, etc. to add to the repertoire on the website. All right. Well, it was wonderful to talk with you. Thank you again.
A: And nice talking with you. And it's great to be part of this project.
Q: Thank you. I'm so glad that you were.
Q: Okay. So be well; we'll be in touch.
A: Okay. You, too.
Q: Thank you.
A: Bye bye.