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Parties and Context

Parties and Context

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand that the first stage of analyzing a conflict is identifying the parties involved and the context in which the conflict occurs

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Video Transcription

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When there is a conflict that involves multiple parties. Or it's gone on for some period of time and has a lot of complexity to it, it is necessary for the conflict intervener to gather information first before meeting with the parties.

So where does the intervener begin? Well, I'm Marlene. And I'd like to talk with you about that in today's tutorial.

So the first step is to find out who's involved in this conflict. So the intervener needs to identify all the parties that are involved. That includes both direct parties and indirect parties.

Now, direct parties, of course, are those that are directly and actively involved in the conflict. For example, if you had a conflict within a neighborhood where, say, the neighbors are upset.

Because a developer is coming in to build a high rise. And the high rise is going to be tall, block their view, bring in a lot of traffic. They have a lot of reasons for objecting to this.

So the people who live in the neighborhood are direct parties to this conflict. As is the developer.

Now indirect parties are people or groups that are not directly involved in the conflict. But affected by its outcome.

So for example, in this scenario, in this neighborhood, there are some beautiful parks. There's a lake. And people who don't live in the neighborhood come quite often to use the lake.

Or to take their children to the park. You have a lot of boaters who come. A lot of people who like to swim. And they're indirectly involved in this conflict because the outcome will affect that.

Now the direct parties may or may not know about these indirect parties. But what could happen is that, say, somebody in the neighborhood, a coalition within the neighborhood decides to become actively involved in this dispute.

And they begin to reach out to these other parties, the indirect parties, and talk to them about what's planned in this neighborhood. And how it will affect them.

And soon you have the boaters and some of the people who come in to use the parks becoming allies of the neighbors. And seeking to influence the outcome. Perhaps attending city council events.

So now these indirect parties have decided to join in and they've become direct parties to the conflict.

And, of course, at this point, the other side here, the developers, are becoming aware of their existence. Because no longer are they indirect parties. They've become direct parties.

So this is the first step for the intervener is to identify who all is involved. Direct parties and indirect parties. And then, of course, to examine the context of the conflict.

Now the context would be the history of events here in the conflict. A timeline, if you will, of sequential events that have occurred.

And in some conflicts, this can be quite extensive. If you have, for example, if you're looking at war torn countries, you're going to have a quite extensive, complicated timeline here of events that could be still influencing this present day conflict.

But you're going to take into account not only this timeline of events, but responses to the event. Changes in attitude, perception.

All of these factors that are considered context for this conflict. Now there may be times when you are mapping the conflict. And realize that the conflict at hand is simply an aspect of a larger conflict.

And I think quite often this is true. Particularly in larger international conflicts. Or in war torn countries.

For example, you might be looking at a conflict between two ethnic groups who are fighting. And it may be over cultural and religious differences. Animosity between these two ethnic groups.

And as you begin to map that, you realize that this is really part of a larger conflict over land resources. And that perhaps the conflict actually started over resources. And has now come to focus on the ethnicity.

So that's one example of how mapping out a conflict and the context, looking at the causes can show you that the conflict at hand is only an aspect of a larger conflict.

So the first step. The very first step for the intervener is to identify the parties. Direct parties as well as indirect parties. And to examine the context of the conflict.

So thank you for joining me and I look forward to next time.

Terms to Know
Context of Conflict

The history of sequential events that make up a conflict.

Direct Party

A person actively involved in a conflict.

Indirect Party

A person not actively involved in a conflict, but affected by the outcome of that conflict.