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Axes of Bias in Inter-Sectoral Dialogue


Prepared as a contextual statement (see others) on the occasion of the Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) for the International Facilitating Committee for the Independent Sectors in the UNCED process (Geneva). Portions of the text were published in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential (1994-5, vol 2) and in the online version of its commentaries (to which links below are made) shaping the global network of local bargains by decoding and mapping Earth Summit inter-sectoral issues. [IFCD51C ]

1. ORDER versus DISORDER

1a. Preference for order: Dialogue should be orderly, based on an ordered array of sectoral statements and arguments. Favoured by those defining the environment and development in an orderly manner.

1b. Preference for disorder: Inter-sectoral dialogue must necessarily be chaotic and disorderly in order to be fruitful. Favoured by those sectors recognizing that they are subject to more forces than can be rationally presented.

2. STATIC versus DYNAMIC

2a. Preference for static: Inter-sectoral dialogue can be viewed as forming a static, semi-permanent configuration of sectoral positions. Favoured by agencies mandated to respond to particular problems over an extended period of time.

2b. Preference for dynamic: Dialogue can only be understood as a dynamic, shifting relationship between sectors. Favoured by those preoccupied by short-term considerations.

3. DISCRETE versus CONTINUOUS

3a. Preference for discrete: Sectors and issues are both viewed during dialogue as distingished by clear boundaries. Favoured by those who need to distinguish and allocate responsibilities.

3b. Preference for continuous: Sectors and issues are both viewed as forming a continuous, possibly "seamless", field of tensions during dialogue. Possibly favoured by those recognizing pervasive fields of tensions, conspiracy theories, and negative forces.

4. EXTERNAL versus IDENTIFICATION

4a. Preference for external relationship to phenomena: Sectors and issues viewed as externalities, namely objects of experience to be experienced from without during the dialogue process. Basic to the strategic assumptions of many international programmes.

4b. Preference for identification with phenomena: Sectoral issues can only be genuinely comprehensible through an intitive identification with the experience they constitute, especially during the dialogue process. Favoured by those whose views have been strongly influenced by personal experience of suffering.

5. SHARPLY versus IMPLICITLY DEFINED

5a. Preference for sharply defined phenomena: Sectoral issues viewed as directly experiencable. Favoured by those responding to problems seen as concrete realities as opposed to unreal abstractions.

5b. Preference for implictly defined phenomena: Sectoral preoccupations viewed as implying levels of significance greater than are immediately obvious. Favoured by those who detect more fundamental problems in issues which may not otherwise appear problematic.

6. COMPREHENSIBLE versus INCOMPREHENSIBLE

6a. Preference for inherently comprehensible phenomena: Sectoral preoccupations viewed as comprehensible in terms of existing paradigms. Favoured by pragmatists working in the light of long experience.

6b. Preference for inherently incomprehensible phenomena: Sectoral preoccupations calling for explanations in terms of other frames of reference. Favoured, notably, from certain religious perspectives.

7. DUE versus SPONTANEOUS PROCESS

7a. Preference for due process: Inter-sectoral dialogue should be governed by pre-defined processes. Favoured by those sectors relying on well-developed procedures.

7b. Preference for spontaneous process: Inter-sectoral dialogue viewed as most fruitful when spontaneous processes emerge. Favoured by those who see chance and accident to be significant.
(Text adapted from W T Jones)


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