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Cultural Style and Solutions to Conflict
Dorothy K. Billings
Journal of Peace Research
Vol. 28, No. 3 (Aug., 1991), pp. 249-262
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/424406
Page Count: 14
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This paper relates data from two contrasting cultures in Papua New Guinea to the divergent views of Boulding and Galtung with regard to egalitarian and hierarchical structures in society, associative and dissociative solutions to conflict, justice and exploitation, vitality and stagnation, and direct or structural violence. Analyses suggest that the evolutionary and structural theories proposed, respectively, by Boulding and Galtung may be differentially applicable to societies organized by different cultural styles. Examples are provided from anthropological research in two societies of contrasting cultural styles in Papua New Guinea: the group-oriented Tikana of New Ireland, and the individualistic Lavongai of New Hanover. The style of Tikana culture is group-oriented, institutionalized, and egalitarian: while that of Lavongai culture is individualistic, non-institutionalized, and peck-ordered. In the resolution of conflicts, e.g. regarding property or marriages, Tikana typically emphasize public claims and favor peace over justice for individuals. Institutionalized rules provide leadership and prevent the escalation of disputes to violence. Lavongai, by contrast, typically seek justice at any cost, and regard disputes as private matters. Conflicts are resolved by individuals unaided by institutionalized rules or leadership roles, and often involve violence. The same structures which yield dissociative solutions to conflict among the Lavongai also allow peck-ordered hierarchies to form and persist, while those structures which produce associative solutions among the Tikana also bring about and maintain egalitarian relationships.
Journal of Peace Research © 1991 Sage Publications, Ltd.