Document Type

Introductory Essay


Some Thoughts on the Nature of Controversy


In contemporary societies that value speedy, efficient, and effective solutions to problems, ordinary citizens are prone to view controversy as a waste of time or even as an obstacle to achieving their chosen goals. In this sense, controversy is taken as something to be avoided or something that must be overcome in the pursuit of the “good life.” Thus, it is not surprising that common reactions to controversy include a refusal to acknowledge that a particular issue is controversial (a partisan defensive response), a general retreat from engagement (a response due to fear of escalation), a sense of resignation that the issue can't be solved (an apathetic response), or an impatient demand for remediation (a "fix it" response).

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