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<xTITLE>Keystone Conference: Megatrends for Mediators in Society & Culture</xTITLE>

Keystone Conference: Megatrends for Mediators in Society & Culture

by Ann Gosline
October 2006 Ann Gosline
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Social and Cultural Trends related to media/technology:

  • The continuing globalization of culture, with cultural blurring and morphing. An example of morphing is a Christmas display in a Tokyo department store with Santa Claus on a Cross. (See “The Truth About the Truth, De-confusing and Re-constructing the Postmodern World,” ed. Truett Anderson). Likely erosion of US hegemony in popular culture.

  • Decentralization and democratization of art, explosion of small scale art and entertainment. YouTube is just the beginning.

  • Harnessing the use collective intelligence; the growth of “decision-markets.” See “The Wisdom of Crowds,” by James Surowiecki. Responses to economic and demographic forces and relationship to social capital:

    The overarching trend is the growing economic chasm – the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle is shrinking. Because of globalization and other forces, there is downward mobility for many working people. Barriers to upward economic mobility are expected to grow. Racism is expected to continue to be an additional significant barrier.

    • Growing gap in the quality of education, health care, and access to technology available to the advantaged and disadvantaged. In education, for the advantaged, a move toward teaching how to think, science and math; for others, continued efforts to impose rote learning, reinforcing barriers to mobility.

    • People are on the move for reasons of survival both within and between countries. There will be continued movement of poor people out of the cities, into suburbs. Suburbs will continue to become more economically and ethnically diverse overall, but are expected to be a patchwork of pockets defined by economic status, ethnicity, with a growth of gated communities. In addition, significant economic dislocation and forced movement is expected as a result of weather and climate-change induced events, such as Katrina in the U.S.

    • These pressures present challenges to all aspects of social engagement and civil society. See “Bowling Alone,” by Robert Putnam.

    • Immigration is major societal issue around the world. In the U.S., whites will become the minority in a number of the most populated and culturally influential states. This has and will lead to heightened tensions, push-back from “English-Only” forces.

    • Aging of the population: In the US, retirement communities are growing, with their own subcultures. Aging population keeps working and remaining influential longer. Expect a robust debate over end-of-life health care and “right to die” issues. Encouraging trends or events:

      1) Many communities are intentionally seeking to build social connections and use collaborative processes.

      2) The demonstrations in reaction to the draconian immigration bill in the U.S. may signal the emergence of new leadership and activism from the immigrant community.

      3) In the US, some say that the generation entering college is likely to be the most civic-minded since the World War II generation

      Search for meaning in a scary, complex world:

      Many commentators predict a continued expansion of a fundamentalist worldview, and a shift to away from individual liberties. Whether this is the ultimate direction, there will at least be a tumultuous debate over the values of a civil society, including: 1) whether government control in the name of security trumps privacy, speech rights, and other values important to an open society;

      2) issues concerning sexual orientation, gender identity, and reproductive freedom, and whether society will favor traditional norms or protect individual rights; and

      3) generally, whether we respond to the stresses of a scary world by discussing complex issues and deeply held values, or simply show obedience to others’ thinking and authority.

      Encouraging trends:

      • Many faith communities are leading in maintaining social ties and connections, in many communities, across the economic spectrum. Many are proponents of an open society. In response to the shootings at an Amish school, the Amish community showed that religion can be a powerful voice for forgiveness rather than retribution.

      • Growing consensus on the need for global action “Green” thinking will become less partisan: Global climate change has spurred broad-based support for action on climate change in much of the world, and more recently, in the United States. See new initiatives in California, a critical US trend-setter. See also the growing involvement of evangelical churches in the climate change issues.

      • Highly empowered individuals are undertaking global initiatives on AIDS, other health issues.

Biography


Ann Gosline is a practicing attorney since 1976, full-time neutral mediator, facilitator, trainer/consultant and arbitrator since 1984. Extensive experience mediating and arbitrating complex employment, environmental and public policy disputes. Has served as a mediator or arbitrator for over one thousand disputes arising in the federal, state, and municipal government, schools and institutions of higher education, and the health care, mining, construction, airline, manufacturing, retail, and utilities industries throughout New England and in the Midwest. Extensive experience as facilitator/mediator of multi-party public policy issues, including watershed planning, negotiated rulemaking, development of proposed legislation involving state-wide transportation planning, wetlands and water quality protection, fisheries management, agricultural activities, and state-wide environmental risk assessment and environmental priority setting, health system reform, access to health care, and allocation of legal resources to low income citizens.



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