Dispute Systems Design, Neoliberalism, and the Problem of Scale
31 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2009
Date Written: August 13, 2009
This essay critically explores the idea that techniques based on individual dispute resolution paradigms can provide a compelling vision for the resolution of larger-scale conflict. To that end, it examines the methods of dispute systems design (DSD) and some of the background social and political conditions that influenced DSD’s emergence. In the 1970s, ADR was created to resolve individual disputes by means other than the predominant application of state law. Today, dispute systems designers are applying ADR’s methods to collective, rather than individual, conflict in contexts marked by market models of state power. Drawing on an analytic of scale, this essay illustrates how DSD’s methods may replicate neoliberal conceptions of social organization by eliding differences between collective and individual interests and ends. It sketches ideas for a scale-sensitive approach to systems design that considers how questions of power and distribution are reconfigured by a shift from ADR to DSD.
Keywords: alternative dispute resolution, dispute systems design, scale, neoliberalism, Hayek
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation