What anthropology has to say about negotiation

A classic topic within legal anthropology is the difference between adjudication and negotiation.

Swedish political culture has often been described as a culture of negotiation rather than adjudication.

Philip Gulliver, in Social Control in African Society (1963) concluded that the party that prevailed in a negotiatied settlement was likely to be the more politically powerful one.

See Laura Nader, “Civilization and Its Negotiations”. In: Law and Anthropology: A Reader, Sally Falk Moore (ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005, 331.

This suggests that a political culture with a strong focus on negotiation is a culture that priviliges those who are already powerful. This should be compared with legalism and the rule of law, which grants definite rights and powers also to those who are less strong.

This is important because Swedes claim that Swedish society is better than other societies att caring for the weak and unfortunate. In reality, these categories may be less well protected against abuse in Sweden than in societies with a legalistic tradition.

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