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Abstract

Disagreement is a fundamental part of deliberative discussion, but how group members understand their disagreement can profoundly influence their actions. These conflict frames have implications for members’ perception of both the issue and as their relationships. Drawing on Putnam’s (1990, Brummans et al., 2008) work on conflict frames, this study examines how members of an online deliberative group framed and reframed their conflicts through personal storytelling. Members drew on different models of democracy in their stories. Some managed their disagreements through reframing their conflicts and relationships as collaborative, even in response to adversarially-framed stories. This study advances research in conflict, group discussion, and deliberative discussion and offers practical suggestions for facilitators on how to recognize, interrogate, and help groups develop productive conflict frames.

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