Conflict spectacles are high-profile stories about people in disputes, people who may or may not be famous having disagreements that may or may not be important. Watching these conflict spectacles unfold provides more than just news or entertainment. When people watch conflict spectacles, they inevitably learn things about the nature of conflict and conflict resolution. They see how certain behaviors play to different audiences. They observe what happens to disputants who take one approach or another. They watch the (online or in-person) reactions of people they admire and people they do not admire, which may induce them to adjust their own thinking about the conflict so that they are more closely aligned with particular people or groups. They draw conclusions around what kinds of conflict-related behaviors are normal, what tactics seem to work, what actions are ineffective, and what successful resolution looks like. With this in mind, it is worth considering what people may be learning from conflict spectacles in the age of snap disputes, especially in the context of justice systems and access concerns. Beliefs around conflict – causes, effects, winning strategies, losing behaviors, successful resolution – cannot help but affect how people think about the necessity of war, the possibility of peace, the humanity of the Other, the responsibility to self and to community, the status of one’s own beliefs about how the world works, and the meaning of justice.
Reynolds, Jennifer Wenska, Does ADR Feel Like Justice? (March 27, 2020). Fordham Law Review, volume 88, no 2357, 2020.