Dialogues in Consensus-building for Governance
AbstractParticipatory democratic governance requires consensus-building processes. Consensus usually implies coming to some agreement about a set of propositions, but there is much more involved because consensus is also a set of social relations that allow people to act together and live harmoniously even when there is propositional disagreement. This paper proposes a conceptual examination of some of the different kinds of disagreements that may make consensus seem near impossible. By classifying the main types of discord, we can provide a conceptual map of the dialogues needed for consensus-building processes. We also need to characterise dialogue as such, distinguishing it from debate, discussion, and conversation, and distinguish it from various forms of conflict resolution such as mediation, group-problem solving and conflict transformation. To define the kinds of discord that make consensus difficult, we shall characterise the hermeneutics of listening, as well as the structure of communication. This will enable us to identify how dialogical processes can go wrong in ways relevant to consensus-building. From this, we distinguish four basic kinds of dialogical processes needed for consensus-building governance.