05/2013 – 對話的挑戰- 從菁英模式走向公民對話 | Moving Beyond Dialogues of the Elite

對話的挑戰- 從菁英模式走向公民對話 


這個4月份媒體舉辦的「核四應否停建大辯論」贊成停建及續建雙方各推派代表,就核安、經濟、供電、能源等議題交鋒,盼替紛擾台灣社會數十年的核四爭議開啟理性對話的平台。2011年十一月時,朝邦文教基金會舉行的【對話力國際工作坊:用對話擁抱群眾 發揮改變的綜效 (Dialogic Change Workshop)】中,對話專家湯斐力(Philip Thomas)提起菁英和一般公民進行對話時的優缺點。2013年四月的新訊息中,我們希望提升我們的體認力(引導者、對話贊助者和參與者),了解當我們決定參與對話的人是誰時(或不能參與的人是誰),最後的成果會有什麼樣的影響。

當我們思考要如何改變系統時,因為需要讓當權者和相對沒有力量的人一起加入對話,會產生一股張力。每一個階段有某種程度的挑戰:訂定對化的目標,讓對話可以促成更有意義的改變,像是有勢力的機構和人們做出重要的改革;展開一段包容性強的對話;或是設計一套流程,在現有權力結構中,持有不同立場的人可以凝聚一堂,討論大家的問題。

表格1中,比較以菁英為代表的對話和一般民眾參與的對話兩者之間的差異、效益和風險。

表格 1

菁英:

 正面的效益:

  • 知名人物,了解事情運作的模式。
  • 快速,可控制,可以預期的成果。
  • 尊重現有的領導人物。
  • 讓人感覺有合法性、相關性。
  • 國際間的贊助人和捐款人比較習慣認識的人。
  • 在決策過程中有權威。

風險和缺點:

  • 將一般大眾排除在外,並未體認「以我們人們」的思維。
  • 社會中的資訊有限或被扭曲。
  • 無法感受到複雜度,論述變得過於簡化。.
  • 無止無盡的政治操弄,讓一般大眾淪為無關緊要的旁觀者。
  • 議題過於單極化。
  • 批判性的技巧流失。
  • 激發出兩極化的討論,以及想要「贏」、不想「輸」的想法。

一般民眾:

正面的效益:

  • 體認一般大眾的觀感,並讓民眾參與。
  • 推廣公民的責任。
  • 讓資訊的基礎面更豐富,也體認到複雜的層面。
  • 限制了政治上的遊戲和操弄。
  • 推廣並培養批判型聆聽和思考技巧。
  • 在所有層面都推廣對話,激發好奇心。

風險和缺點:

  • 創意和混亂的狀態被視為風險,可能帶來難以控制的結果。
  • 因為長而緩慢的流程,而稀釋了重要的議題。
  • 有可能達成不理想或被誤導的決策。
  • 挑戰現有的領導者的領導力。
  • 不夠實際或不符合現實狀態。
  • 人們可能覺得在文化上不恰當。
  • 大家都是利益關係人,持有偏見。

( 取自於湯斐力(Philip Thomas)著作:「這些民主體制中的一般大眾在哪裡?對話和討論:進行公民參與的機制」(Where’s the Public in These Democracies?  Dialogue and Deliberation: Mechanisms for Exercising Civic Engagement),2004年9月於瓜地馬拉的瓜地馬拉市舉行的國際調節者年會所發表之文章。

民主的對話通常偏頗於菁英,除了現有的政治與商業權力核心,還有少數的公共利益團體之外,並無法觸及其他利益相關者。在領導的領域上,建立平衡的參與者,是一個很大的挑戰。

圖表1 則顯示,精英式的對話可能在短期相當有效果,但是卻也會引起意想不到的後果,無法打造出較長遠的投入感,因此影響民主的文化與運作。

灰色的圓形環就是公共議題出現時大家普遍有的行為模式。利益相關者通常會用簡化、扭曲、通常是二極化的語言來討論這些議題,藉此說服一般大眾,得到大家的支持。當各方的利益團體結合勢力,希望助長自己支持的一方,卻也導致衝突更嚴重,演變成一場政治的交鋒,然後變成危機。

為了預防社會的不穩定,特別設計出一套流程,用來引導對話,共同解決問題。但是當大家有一股急迫感,一種認為有必要快速達成成果的迫切心情,又注意到議題的複雜度時,往往就會強制地促成一種精英式的流程,僅讓領導者和專家們參與。雖然這種流程在短期內的確會產生共識,但是虛線的箭頭也顯示出隨著時間演變會出現一些意想不到的後果 – 想要參與他們關心的議題的公民被邊緣化或被排除在外。一種惡性的循環就會啟動,越來越多的公民因為感到無助而抽離,然後越來越多的政治人物也繼續忽略他們的想法。

如果要引導一般公民直接參與探索、衝突變革、決策和集體行動,表格2列出一些大型團體對話和討論時頗有助益的工具:

表格 2:

僅有流程:

  • 全美開講,二十一世紀城鎮會議 (AmericaSpeaks 21st Century Town Meeting)
  • 公民選擇(Citizen Choicework)
  • 公民審議委員會(Citizen Deliberative Councils)
  • 共識會議(Consensus Conference)
  • 審議式調查(Deliberative Polling)
  • Public Conversations Project
  • 讀書圈(Study Circles)
  • 持續性對話(Sustained Dialogue)
  • 探索未來(Future Search)
  • 參與式行動研究(Participatory Action Research)

流程和流程的工具:

  • 肯定式探詢
  • 團體之間的對話
  • 開放空間科技
  • 圓形流程(Circle Processes)
  • 世界咖啡館(World Café)
  • 被壓迫者劇場(Theatre of the Oppressed)
  • 對話專賣店(Store Dialogue)
  • 學習旅程
  • 網路為基礎的工具
  • 國際議題論壇 – 討論式研究指南

參與/排除於對話是一個困境,因為這是一個持續需要管控的緊張狀態,而且永遠不能「解決」。希望這次的新訊息可以幫助各位在對話上催化更持久的改變。


Moving Beyond Dialogues of the Elite


This April the Taiwanese press held a debate on the topic of whether to suspend Taiwan’s #4 nuclear power plant; representatives advocating both the stop vs. the continuation of the power plant were put forth by both sides, and the media hailed the event as a reasoned dialogic platform.  During the CP Yen Foundation’s November 2011 “Dialogic Change Workshop” dialogue expert Philip Thomas highlighted the tradeoff’s between dialogue held among elites versus ordinary citizens.  This April 2013 newsletter aims to raise the awareness of facilitators, dialogue sponsors and participants alike, of the impacts that decisions have about who to include and exclude in a dialogue.

There’s a tension between the need to bring both those who hold power in the system and those who are relatively powerless into conversations about how to change the system.  This dilemma presents difficulties at every step; including when framing the dialogue’s purpose as a way for meaningful change through reforming powerful institutions and individuals, when convening an inclusive group, and when designing a process to manage issues that arise from bringing people together from very different positions across the existing power structure.  

Table 1 suggests how the choice between convening a dialogue with elites representing stakeholder groups, on the one hand, and engaging ordinary citizens on the other, presents a dilemma of benefits and risks.  

  Elite:

Positive Benefits:

  • – Well known and understood way of functioning.
  • – Quick, controllable, predictable.
  • – Respects established leadership.
  • – Perceived as more legitimate and relevant.
  • – International sponsors and donors are comfortable with people they know.
  • – Has decision-making authority.

Ordinary Citizens:

Positive Benefits:

  • – Recognizes and involves the general public.
  • – Promotes civic responsibility.
  • – Enriches information base, recognizes complexity.
  • – Limits political game-playing.
  • – Promotes and strengthens critical listening and thinking skills.
  • – Promotes dialogue at all levels and generates curiosity.

Risks, disadvantages:

  • – Excludes the general public, fails to recognize ‘we the people’.
  • – Information in the society is limited or distorted.
  • – Fails to recognize complexity, discourse becomes simplistic.
  • – Perpetuates political game, reduces the public to spectators.
  • – Atomization of issues.
  • – Deterioration of critical skills.
  • – Fosters polarizing debate and the desire to ‘win’ and ‘not lose.’

Risks, disadvantages:

  • – Innovation and sense of chaos is perceived as risky & loss of control of results.
  • – Key issues become diluted because of long, slow process.
  • – Runs risk of reaching poor and misguided decisions.
  • – Undermines established leadership.
  • – Not practical or realistic
  • – May be considered culturally inappropriate.
  • – Everyone is a stakeholder and biased.

Source: Philip Thomas, ‘Where’s the Public in These Democracies?  Dialogue and Deliberation: Mechanisms for Exercising Civic Engagement”, Paper presented to the International Conference on Mediation, Guatemala City, Guatemala, 2 September 2004.)

Democratic dialogue is often unbalanced in favor of the elite such as established political and business powers, and fails to reach beyond a limited audience of stakeholders.  Correcting the balance is a challenge for the field of facilitation.  

The Chart below illustrates how elite dialogues are often effective in the short term but have unintended consequences of undermining a longer term commitment to strengthening democratic culture and governance.  

The center large shaded loop depicts a common pattern of practice where in order to win support, stakeholders will talk about an issue in simplified, distorted and often polarizing language.  As interest groups coalesce around their private objectives, confrontations arise and conflict intensifies, becoming a political battle and escalating into crisis.

The box to the right of the circle depicts a dialogue initiative among key stakeholders.  But the sense of urgency, perceived need for quick results, and recognition of the complexity of the issues often leads to a process design that limits participation to leaders and experts only.  Although this might produce short-term results such as agreements, the dotted arrows leading to the left side of the loop demonstrate common unintended consequences, such as an erosion of democracy and marginalization or exclusion of citizens from genuinely participating in what concerns them. 

A vicious cycle is perpetuated where discourse become increasingly simplified, distorted and polarized leading to increasing cynicism and disengagement in civic affairs.  The more citizens withdraw in hopelessness, the more politicians ignore them.

Facilitating direct participation of ordinary citizens in the exploration, conflict transformation, decision-making and collective action in public issues, can be achieved using the process tools listed in Table 2 which have proven effective in dialogue and deliberation for large groups.:

Process only:

  • – AmericaSpeaks 21st Century Town Meeting
  • – Citizen Choicework
  • – Citizen Deliberative Councils
  • – Consensus Conference
  • – Deliberative Polling
  • – Public Conversations Project
  • – Study Circles
  • – Sustained DIalogue
  • – Future Search
  • – Participatory Action Research

Process and Process tool:

  • – Appreciative Inquiry
  • – Inter-group Dialogue
  • – Open Space Technology
  • – Circle Processes
  • – World Cafe
  • – Theatre of the Oppressed
  • – Store Dialogue
  • – Learning Journeys
  • – Web-based tools
  • – National Issues Forums – Deliberative study guides.

Dialogue inclusion and exclusion is a dilemma because it is a tension needing continual management, and will never be “solved.”  We hope this newsletter can help your dialogues catalyze long-lasting change for all system stakeholders!

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