The codes of adversarialism

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This dissertation critiques the codes ofadversarialism that have come to dominate
contemporary Western cultures. It begins by articulating a theory of culture and cultural
change. It proceeds by analyzing the dominant concepts ofpower that inform Westernliberal cultures and the normative adversarialism that derives from them. Next, it demonstrates the relatively ubiquitous and indiscriminate expression of normative
adversarialism throughout the public sphere in Western cultures - within our economic,
political, legal, mass media, social advocacy, and even academic arenas. In each of these arenas, moreover, it points out that adversarial structures and practices appear to privilege more powerful social groups. Thus the dissertation suggests that normative adversarialism can be understood as a hegemonic construct - a widely cultivated set of "common sense"
assumptions and beliefs that constrain the social imagination while serving the interests of privileged segments of society who owe their ascendancy in human affairs to them. The dissertation then critiques the culture of adversarialism from an external vantage point, through the perspective of various non-adversarial alternatives that have been marginalized by it. From this external vantage point, the culture of adversarialism appears both oppressive
and culturally maladaptive - especially under conditions of increasing social and ecological interdependence. This insight, the dissertation concludes, provides a valuable new framework for social theory, research, and praxis.

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