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A naturalistic study of students' perceptions of conflictland power in song/music preferences: Informing theory and praxis in conflict management education

Shirley Marie Joiner

Abstract
This study was conducted in two phases on a collaborative basis at a small liberal arts university in the southwest during the academic year 1991 92. Sixteen undergraduate students enrolled in an interpersonal communication course, seven students enrolled in a combined graduate/undergraduate course in classroom management in special education, and three special informants with expertise in music participated in the study. The respondents used journal keeping in conjunction with classroom instruction and textual material to identify perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences. Students were able to connect theoretical material learned in class about conflict management education with its application in everyday communicative situations. Stronger self-esteem, thinking, and listening sensitivities were enhanced. Alternative management options to intergenerational conflict were suggested.

A pattern model that explains the interrelationship of conflict dynamics to students emerged through reconstruction of students' perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences to inform theory and praxis in conflict management education


1. Introduction to the problem and its significance

Research indicates that regardless of course format, students do not automatically see the relation between theoretical material in conflict management education learned in class and its application in everyday communicative situations (Rowan, 1984). Identification of relevant issues that may cause conflict for students in everyday communicative situations is central to the understanding of conflict management theory and to the development and application of conflict management skills. Research identifies students' song/music preferences with these issues (Sherman & Dominick, 1986; Prinsky & Rosenbaum, 1987; Zillman & Mundorf, 1987).

Since Plato's Republic, philosophers have expressed concern about the effects of music in education. Russell (1945) contends that music was more broadly interpreted by Plato, meaning ". . . everything that is in the province of the muses" (p. 109). This interpretation of music was almost as wide as is culture today.

Today, researchers investigating the influence of popular music on social and interpersonal interactions present conflicting views. Some researchers are concerned that contemporary music contributes to conflict and violence and interferes with academic achievement and the socialization process in education. Other researchers cite the positive aspects of contemporary music as instrumental in the socialization of youth and thus beneficial to academic achievement. However, research on the relationship between music and conflict does not explore students' perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences as a potential source for informing theory and praxis in conflict management education.

Popular music is an extremely sensitive indicator of the temperament and preoccupations of people (Kingman, 1979). Since primitive times, song and music have been an emotional expression of individual and cultural conditions (Bowra, 1962). The emotional expressions may be harmonious or conflictual. This harmony or conflict may exist between the individual and his or her gods, within the individual, or between man and woman, good and evil, kinship systems, or political and economic powers (Bowra, 1962). Its wide range of subjects and themes may be useful to educators in helping students understand social and interpersonal conflict, increase awareness of conflict management options, develop conflict management skills, and apply these skills in everyday communicative situations. As the preferred medium of the young, music is an instrumental element in simultaneously shaping and expressing their perceptions of reality (Considine, 1986). Exploring in the classroom, the students' perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences could inform theory and praxis in conflict management education.

This approach is supported by information processing theories. According to Mayer (cited in King, 1990), when individuals engage in cognitive activities such as noting relationships among ideas and linking new information with old, "they are making internal connections between those ideas and making external connections between these ideas and their previous learning" (p. 667). Thus, the use of students' perceptions of conflict that may be reflected in song/music preferences, in combination with textual material, should assist this "connection making" in the classroom and its applicability to students' everyday communicative situations. Continues Mayer (cited in King, 1990), "making these internal connections causes learners to organize the material in meaningful ways, while making external connections helps them to integrate the new information into their existing knowledge structures. Both of these processes enhance encoding and retrieval of the new material" (p. 667). The retrieval in everyday communicative situations of theoretical material learned in class about conflict management may be enhanced through the connection making students do between this theoretical material and their perceptions of conflict and power in their song/music preferences.

This chapter presents the purpose of the study, definitions of key terms used in the study and the research questions that guided the study. Chapter II reviews literature relevant to the study. Lightfoot's (1983) portrait approach to data presentation is used in presenting Phase I in Chapter III, and Phase II in Chapter IV. Summary discussion and implications of results appear in Chapter V.

Purpose of the Study.

The purpose of this naturalistic study was to investigate the applicability of students' perceptions of conflict in their song/music preferences to informing theory and praxis in conflict management education. Perceptions of conflict identified in song/music preferences were used to try to increase students' understanding of conflict dynamics, conflict management options, and the applicability of these options to everyday communication situations. It was intended that increased understanding of conflict management dynamics as perceived through their song/music preferences might assist students in connecting theoretical material learned in class and its application to everyday communicative situations by asking such questions as: "Who is in conflict?; What is the conflict about?; What type of conflict is it?; What power sources are being drawn upon?; and What conflict management strategies are being used?" Such questions were intended to lead to awareness of alternate conflict management options and the applicability of these options to everyday communicative situations.

Research Questions.

Three questions guided this study:

  1. Do college students perceive expressed conflict in their song/music preferences?
  2. If college students perceive expressed conflict in their song/music preferences, do they identify personal conflicts with these expressions?
  3. How (if at all) can college students' perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences inform conflict management education in such a way as to increase students' and teachers' awareness of conflict management options that may be applicable in everyday communicative situations?

Additional questions emerged in this study and are discussed in Chapters III and IV.

Definitions of Key Terms.

The terms defined here are descriptive of conflict dynamics and conflict management and are largely drawn from Verderber & Verderber (1989), the course text used in the study. The definitions of types of power are from French & Raven (1953, cited in Verderber & Verderber, 1989).

Extended definitions of terms in the text are shown in parentheses. These terms and their definitions are reflected again in Chapters III and IV as initial categories and defining rules consistent with Glaser & Strauss (1967).

Conflict

A clash of opposing attitudes, desires, interests, ideas, behaviors, goals, and needs (Verderber & Verderber, 1989, p. 264). (An expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce rewards, and interference from the other party in achieving those goals.)

Kinds of conflict

  • Pseudoconflict. A false conflict that appears to be real presents an either/or orientation.
  • Content conflict. A conflict which is concerned with message accuracy, and may be over:
    1. a fact
    2. an interpretation of a fact or inferences drawn from a series of facts
    3. a definition
    4. a choice among goals, actions, or means of achieving goals.
  • Ego conflict. A conflict which occurs when parties to the conflict view winning or losing as a measure of their expertise).

Values

Values are the cluster of attitudes or beliefs that provide a frame of reference for evaluating the worth of an object, situation, or behavior ).

Value conflict. A conflict resulting from a difference in views of life.

Types of Conflict Management

  • Withdrawal. Physically or psychologically withdrawing from the situation (avoidance).
  • Discussion. A consideration of the pros and cons of a situation (prosocial).
  • Surrender. Giving in immediately to a situation to avoid a conflict.
  • Aggression. Physical or psychological coercion to get one's way. (May be direct or indirect).
  • Persuasion. Attempts to change the attitude or behavior of another.

Power

Represents the potential to influence another because of the authority one has been granted by society (p. 239). (position and possession).

Types of Power

Legitimate power. The right of a person to influence another because of the authority he or she has been granted by society (p. 239). (position and possession).

Reward power. Power derived because a person is capable of providing things desired by others by bestowing monetary, physical, or psychological benefits (p. 249). (knowledge, skill, credibility, interpersonal attractiveness, physical strength, position, and possession).

Coercive power. Power derived from the capability one has of punishing others, either physically or psychologically -usually takes the form of a threat (pp. 240 241). (knowledge, skill, credibility, interpersonal attractiveness, physical strength, position, and possession).

Expert power. Power derived from having more information or skill in a given area than do most other people (p. 241).

Referent power. Power derived from the potential to influence others because they respect the one attempting to influence. It increases the value of the other bases of power (p. 242). (knowledge, skill, credibility, and interpersonal attractiveness).

Power balance in relationships

The relative power possessed by the parties which is based on interdependency in a relationship. The distribution of this power determines the direction and nature of interactions (p. 243). Power status was defined at three levels: 1) high; 2) low; and 3) equal.

Issue

In this study, issue means any point of dispute in a conflict.

Song/Music

Any song/music preferred by the students. That is, the song/music that students select for themselves, and choose over other types of song/music.

Limitations of the Study.

The conclusions drawn from analysis of the data, and method of data analysis are subject to the limitations of the paradigm. The primary limitation of this specific study was the lack of instructional classroom time allotted the researcher. Further limitations of the present study are discussed after presentation of the findings.


2. Review of the Literature

As discussed in Chapter I, this study investigated students' perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences and their applicability to informing theory and praxis in conflict management education. This chapter is organized in the following way. The first area, provides an orientation to key research on the paradigmatic transition from the positivistic to postpositivistic paradigms and traces the roots of ethnography to cultural anthropology. In the second area, an historical background of conflict theories is established to show how these theories influence conflict management education. In the third area, more recent research on conflict shows the complexity of conflict and contrasts paradigms and methods used to investigate that complexity. In the fourth area, research on song/music in relation to conflict is examined. In the fifth area, definitions of culture provide context for understanding song/music as a medium of cultural expression. In the sixth area, references on journal writing and on the use of the student as a curricular informant are examined. Finally, a brief summary of the study is presented.

Areas Reviewed.

Paradigmatic Orientation

The reader is referred to Kuhn (1970), Rosenblatt (1978), Zukav (1979), Capra (1982), Lincoln & Guba (1985), and Weaver (1985) for an examination of the paradigmatic reformulation, or transition from the positivistic to postpositivistic. The roots of ethnography lie in cultural anthropology (Malinowsky, 1922; Pelto & Pelto, 1978). Researchers by whom ethnographers are guided in theory and practice include Glaser & Strauss (1967); Spradley & McCurdy (1975); Schwartz & Jacobs (1979); Spradley (1979); Hammersley & Atkinson (1983); Taylor & Bogdan (1984); Lincoln & Guba (1985); and Patton (1990). Lincoln & Guba (1985, pp. 36 38) contrast axioms underlying positivistic and naturalistic research paradigms:

Axiom 1: (ontology) refers to the nature of reality. The positivist version posits a single tangible reality comprised of independent variables that can be predicted and controlled; the naturalist posits multiple constructed realities calling for holistic inquiry to achieve understanding (verstehen).

Axiom 2: (epistemology) refers to the relationship of knower to known. For the positivist, discrete dualism exists between the object of inquiry and the inquirer; the naturalist recognizes the knower and known as inseparable.

Axiom 3: (generalization) refers to the possibility of generalization. The purpose of inquiry for the positivist is to develop generalizations (or truth statements) that are time and context free; for the naturalist, the purpose is to develop working hypotheses that describe context specific cases.

Axiom 4: (causal linkages), refers to the attribution of causality. The positivist explains action as an effect of earlier cause; the naturalist does not distinguish cause from effect in that entities are seen as engaged in mutual, simultaneous shaping.

Axiom 5: (axiology) refers to the role of values in inquiry. Positivists elect objective methodology to ensure value free inquiry; the naturalist's inquiry is value bound with values expressed in choice of study, paradigm, substantive theory, context, and congruence between these choices.

Magoon (1977) examines a constructivist theme toward educational research. The chief assumption held by the constructivist perspective toward complex human behavior is that subjects being studied must "at a minimum be considered knowing beings, and that this knowledge they possess has important consequences for how behavior or actions are interpreted" (pp. 651-652). And, a constructivist approach amounts to ". . . a refocusing of educational research on another part of the schooling phenomena and consequently taking an approach to it that is called ethnographic; that is, an extensive descriptive and interpretive effort at explaining the complexity" (p. 652). Constructivists posit that individuals in their societies develop constructs the same as individual scientists and scientific communities and that social and behavioral scientists "can and should study both this process as well as the end product" (p. 263). Wax, Diamond & Gearing (1971) present anthropological perspectives on education and examine the complexity of educational contexts.

Basics of Conflict Theories

An historical background of conflict and the search for harmony between extremes can be found in Pythagoreanism which taught that a union of opposites existed within the human being (Boas, 1929). "As the order developed this notion grew until the whole world seemed to be a similar suspension of opposition" (p. 10). According to Boas (1929), Aristotle said the world was divided by primitive Pythagoreanism into "pairs of opposing qualities, ranged in two columns, a good and a bad" (p. 10). The good side consisted of ". . . the soul, the odd, the limit, the one, the right, the male, the unmoving, the straight, the light, the square" (p. 10). The bad side consisted of ". . . the body, the even, the unlimited, the many, the left, the female, the moving, the curved, the dark, and the oblong" (p. 10). Unless this opposition could be resolved, thought the Greeks, the world would "fall in two" (p. 10). Through adjustment of strings on a Greek lyre by the Pythagoreans, harmonious notes were discovered and considered "means between extremes, and the lyre seemed to be a `harmony of opposites'" (p. 11). Thus, the mathematical mean, and the ethical mean of the golden rule were derived from this search for harmony between extremes.

Basics of conflict theory are examined by Collins (1975): The cynical realism about human society of Machiavelli and Hobbes where individuals' behavior is explained in terms of pursuing self interests in a world of threat and violence with organized coercion the foundation of social order. The cynical realism stance has an ideological dimension combined with socially created power struggles designed to aid parties to the conflict by increasing their control over the situation. Marx's theory of conflict is based on principles of stratification of property, mobilization, and mental production which equate determinates of social and political power. To Marx's theory of stratification, Weber adds "the means of emotional production" (p. 58). In Weber's theory, emotions are seen as a weapon that can be used in conflict, and where emotional rituals are used to dominate a group and emotional solidarity is used to strengthen one group's opposition toward another group. Thus, Collins (1975) sees Weber's insight as parallel to those of Durkheim, Freud, and Nietzsche where emotions are manipulated through rituals in the control and domination of social interaction. Capra (1982) examines conflict within the context of cultural transformations brought about through paradigmatic shifts between the Newtonian World Machine view and the New Physics. Hartshorne (1983) debates Schopenhauer's depiction of nature "as a scene of endless struggle and conflict, each against all" (p. 190). For Hartshorne, ". . . conflict is between instances of creative freedom . . . the risk and probability of some conflict is the price of free existence, and for some of us this means the price of existence" (p. 190). Thus, the intricacies of conflict analysis and the complexities of conflict in interaction are reflected in myriad conflict theories.

Research on Conflict and its Complexity

The complexity in conflict management education is illustrated by the diversity of topics addressed in the literature. For example, Chua & Gudykunst (1987) have examined the influence of culture on interpersonal conflict resolution styles. The relationship of gender to conflict resolution strategies has been explored by various researchers (Schockley-Zalabak & Morley, 1984; Canary & Spitzberg, 1987; Papa & Natalle, 1989). Given the complexity of conflict, it is important to examine how researchers investigate the management and resolution of conflict. Most research approaches to conflict management are quantitative, and employ instrumentation that superimposes behavioral categories from stylistic models upon respondents. For example, Wall & Galanes (1986) adopt Bales' (1980) SYMLOG (SYstematic Multiple Level Observation of Groups) to explore its functional viability as a quantitative research tool in small group conflict. Schockley Zalabak & Morley (1984) use the Thomas Killmann (1974) Conflict Mode Instrument, and Chua & Gudykunst (1987) use Putnam & Wilson's (1982) Organizational Communication (OCCI) Instrument. Monroe, Borzi, & DiSalvo (1989) state that this approach to the study of conflict represents a classic case of premature closure. Having gained prominence in the positivistic research paradigm through repeated use over time, these stylistic models preclassify conflict behaviors in idealized ethnocentric situations and do not allow data classification to emerge from the emic perspective. The emic data are defined as data that emerge from the respondent's perspective, and expressed in their own language. Pelto & Pelto (1978, p. 68, cited in Patton, 1990, p. 393), caution that categories must emerge from the emic perspective rather than be imposed through etic (ethnocentric) classifications. Such instruments simply cannot reflect the constructions of the respondents, but only of the instrument maker (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 239).

Harre & Secord (1973, cited in Monroe, Borzi, & DiSalvo, 1989), suggested that behavioral scientists must move from the mechanistic and rational methods of analysis to more human oriented methods. They argued that theory building regarding human interaction should begin with the respondents' perceptions of what is important and what causes the problems they experience in their day to day lives. This view concurs with Lincoln & Guba's view (1985) that, ". . . specific working hypotheses that might apply in a given context are best verified and confirmed by the people who inhabit that context (p. 4). "Naturalistic researchers prefer to negotiate meanings and interpretations with the persons from which the data are drawn because it is their constructions of reality that the inquirer seeks to reconstruct" (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 41).

Rushing (1984) combined qualitative research with the teaching of interpersonal communication where student researchers were asked to define interpersonal communication relationships based upon their precommunicative definition of the relationship; observations of how verbal and nonverbal tactics altered the relationship definition; and their post communication definition of the relationship. In this study, the researcher and student researchers examined conflict in interpersonal communication based on struggles for power advantages in defining interpersonal relationships. In this study, the definition of the relationship is based on rules theory where the actors in the relationship define the relationship based on a priori communication rules, i.e., the power in the relationship is inherent in pre established rules, where the actor who is aware of the rules can choose compliance or manipulation of the rules and thus has the power advantage over the unaware, "rules violator" in defining the relationship. This approach appears not to acknowledge the role of multiple perceptions in defining the relationship, and manipulates informants in the study.

The present study acknowledges multiple perceptions of conflict dynamics. It offers students an opportunity to examine conflict dynamics from an integrated, holistic perspective and respects the right of participants to define relationships without manipulating others. In the present study, students personally associate with lessons learned about conflict management education. The present study engages students in qualitative research in which they learn research methods and the application of theoretical concepts, i.e., conflict management options in everyday communicative situations, as does the Rushing study.

Taba (1962, pp. 45 46) addresses the impact of conflict on cross cultural socialization in education and speaks to the need for new methods and techniques for dealing with social and individual conflicts. This increasing need to teach conflict management theories and management approaches in education is recognized in the annotated bibliographies of Charnofsky (1987) and Cheatham (1989).

Song/Music in Relation to Conflict

Students' involvement with diverse types of music has been extensively connected to conflict and violence in the literature (Sherman & Dominick, 1986; Prinsky & Rosenbaum, 1987; Zillmann & Mundorf, 1987; Hansen & Hansen, 1990). Sexual and violent content in music videos has been documented through content analysis by Brown & Campbell, 1986; Waite & Paludi, (1987, cited in Hansen & Hansen, 1990); Hansen & Hansen, 1989). In The Hurried Child, Elkind (1988), examines the influence of popular music on young peoples' attitude toward drug use and violence against women.

". . . while there is no evidence to suggest that there is a correlation between the two, heavy metal, like other forms of popular music, does run the risk of hurrying young listeners to be prematurely concerned with issues that are not yet real for them, and glamorizing drug use, fast cars, and easy sex" (p. 92).

Funkhouser & Shaw (1990) posit that continual viewing of such music videos can result in "limited contact with, and a superficial view of, one's own inhabited environment" (p. 84). Aufderheide (1986) examines the feelings of instability that ill defined product messages in music videos stimulate in American youth. Other research suggests that heavy involvement with popular music conflicts with adherence to adult norms of academic achievement Coleman (1961, cited in Larson & Kubey, 1983; Burke & Grinder, 1966). Such studies typically seek a cause effect relationship between music and conflict, and do not address the pedagogical potential of music. While the importance of perception in conflict situations has generally been recognized, students' perceptions of conflict that may be reflected in song/music preferences and their pedagogical implications for conflict management education, have not been explored. Identification of relevant issues that may cause conflict for students in everyday communicative situations is central to the understanding of conflict management theory.

Popular music is an extremely sensitive indicator of the temperament and preoccupations of people (Kingman, 1979). Since primitive times, song and music have been an emotional expression of individual and cultural conditions (Bowra, 1962). The emotional expressions may be harmonious or conflictual. This harmony or conflict may exist between the individual and his or her gods, within the individual, or between man and woman, good and evil, kinship systems, or political and economic powers (Bowra, 1962). Honigsheim (1989) examines sociological perspectives of the role and function of music in relation to culture and society. Considine (1986, pp. 251 259) considers music the preferred medium of the young and an instrumental element in simultaneously shaping and expressing their perceptions of reality.

Definitions of Culture

Since Plato's Republic, philosophers have expressed concern about the effects of music in education. Russell (1945) contends that music was more broadly interpreted by Plato, meaning ". . . everything that is in the province of the muses" (p. 109). This interpretation of music was almost as wide as is culture today. Tylor's (1871) all-inclusive definition of culture (cited in Hunter, 1978) considers "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society" (p. 7). Spradley & McCurdy (1975) emphasize that any definition of culture implies a theory with implicit assumptions about human beings, and that which definition one uses depends "not upon its correctness, but its purpose and usefulness" (pp. 4-5). In Goodenough's (1957) definition of culture (cited in Spradley & McCurdy, 1975) the cognitive dimension of experience is emphasized: "Culture is the acquired knowledge that people use to interpret experience and to generate social behavior" (p. 5). This definition has human experience and behavior as products of symbolic meaning systems as its underlying assumption. Frake (1977, cited in Spradley, 1979) defines culture as "a set of principles for creating dramas, for writing scripts, and of course, for recruiting players and audiences" (p. 7). Culture, according to this definition is not simply a cognitive map which people acquire the knowledge to read. Rather, people are the map makers, using the charts of everyday life in map making. By restricting the definition of culture to shared knowledge, behavior, customs, objects, and emotions are not eliminated, but their meaning is emphasized; thus defining culture as a system of meaningful symbols (Spradley, 1979). Spradley & McCurdy (1975) define a symbol as "any object or event that has been assigned meaning" (p. 20). This perspective is generally known as symbolic interactionism.

Initial works from which symbolic interactionism stems include those of John Dewey (1930, cited in Taylor & Bogdan, 1984); Charles Horton Cooley (1933, cited in Taylor & Bogdan, 1984); and George Herbert Mead (1938). Blumer's (1969) interpretation of symbolic interactionism is helpful in understanding how multiple realities of persons are constructed from their experiences within symbolic meaning systems. The root images on which symbolic interactionism is grounded "refer to and depict human groups or societies, social interaction, objects, the human being as an actor, human action, and the interconnection of the lines of action" (p. 6). The concept of culture must be derived from what people do. Social structure must be represented by social position, status, role, authority, and prestige. These terms refer to how people act toward each other within their relationships. Direct experience then, comes from interacting with each other (Dewey, 1934). These interactions that "effect stability and order are rhythms" (p. 16). Out of these rhythms, balance and counterbalance are created. Malinowsky (1922) states that the social and cultural environment in which people move forces them to think and feel in a definite manner. Further that "these ideas, feelings, and impulses are molded and conditioned by the culture in which we find them and are therefore an ethnic peculiarity of the given society" (p. 22). According to Malinowsky, the ethnographer's goal is to grasp the insider's view of their culture. In this study, students were asked to provide the "insider's definition of the situation," their perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences. One way in which they were asked to provide their insight into their perceptions of conflict and power was through journal writing.

Journal Writing and the Curricular Informant

Britton (1975, cited in Fulwiler, 1987) writes that when people write about new information and ideas- in addition to reading, talking, and listening -they learn and understand them better" (p. 5). Emig (1977, cited in Fulwiler, 1987) posits that "when people learn things, they use all of the language modes to do so- reading, writing, speaking, and listening; each mode helps people learn in a unique way" (p. 5). This study is consistent with Harste, Woodward, & Burke (1984) in that it advocates the use of the student as research and curricular informant.

Summary.

This chapter reviewed research on the paradigmatic transition from the positivistic and postpositivistic paradigms and the origins of ethnography in order to provide paradigmatic context in which the study was conducted. The literature review on conflict was reviewed from pythagoreanism to the more current research of today. This review provided an historical background of conflict theory and contrasted paradigms and methods used to investigate conflict and its complexity . It was seen that the study of conflict has been approached from the cause-effect perspective that presents conflict dynamics as discrete and separate elements. Other research that was reviewed calls for a holistic approach to the study of conflict. The literature found that any effort to teach conflict management must find a way to identify issues that are relevant to students and that will help them connect the theoretical material learned in class about conflict management with its application to everyday communicative situations. Further research identified song/music as one such issue. An examination of song/music in relation to conflict revealed diverse perspectives on the influence of song/music on behavior, its role and function in society, and as a medium of emotional and cultural expression. Definitions of culture were reviewed in the literature in order to see what then is expressed through the medium of song/music. In this review, it was found that the literature does not address the pedagogical potential of song/music for teaching conflict management.

The literature on journal writing and use of respondent as curricular informant support the use of this method in the present study. Therefore, the present study explores whether students' understanding of conflict management can be increased through writing about their perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences in conjunction with theoretical material learned in class about conflict and its management. Results of Phase I appear in Chapter III. Results of Phase II of the study conducted in the Spring, 1992 are presented in Chapter IV.


3.Phase I: Fall, 1991

The purpose of the study was to inform theory and praxis in conflict management education through students' perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences. During the Fall of 1991, Phase I was conducted on a collaborative basis in an interpersonal communication course at a small liberal arts university in the southwest. Conflict management was a curriculum unit in this course.

Identification of issues that are relevant to students is central to their understanding of conflict management by helping them see the relation between theoretical material learned in class and its application to everyday communicative situations. Research identifies song/music preferences with these issues. The literature suggests cause effect influences of song/music preferences. These effects have previously been discussed in Chapter II. However, the research does not address the potential of students' perceptions of conflict and power in song/music for informing theory and praxis in conflict management education.

The naturalistic paradigm posits that meanings and interpretations are best negotiated with the persons who inhabit the context. Emerson (1983, p. 24, cited in Taylor & Bogdan, 1984) writes that: "Thick descriptions present in close detail the context and meanings of events and scenes that are relevant to those involved in them" (p. 124). This study explored contexts, issues, and associative events perceived in song/music preferences, documented in journals, and interpreted by informants as relevant in connecting theoretical material learned in class about conflict management education with its applicability in everyday communicative situations. Taylor & Bogdan (1984) recommend grounding the writing in specific examples and illustrative quotations. Examples and quotations presented here reconstruct informants' perceptions of events and their meanings as a means of informing theory and praxis in conflict management education. Following illustrations of categories, Lightfoot's (1983) portraiture approach is used to show how students integrated conflict dynamics through writing about their perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences. In integrating concepts about conflict dynamics, students demonstrated in their writing understanding of conflict management options and the willingness and ability to suggest alternatives between conflict management options. Some of the students project potential outcomes of the application of these alternative options.

Method.

Context and Respondents

Sixteen undergraduate students enrolled in an interpersonal communication course in which conflict management was a curriculum unit were respondents in this study. The collaborating classroom professor offered participants twenty bonus points for participation in Phase I. Other bonus point options were not offered to students.

Special Informants. Because of their special interest in this study and their expertise, three special informants who were not students in this course, but who were students at this university, voluntarily participated in Phase I and in Phase II of the study. These informants provided expertise from three perspectives: One student was a music/math major with special knowledge of song and music; one student, a disc jockey, was a mass communication major with special knowledge of the history and genre of music and was especially sensitive to song and music as a medium of expression. One student provided intercultural insight into the meaning of music to a Native American.

Procedure

Through lecture and participant discussion, the researcher taught the unit on managing conflict. This unit included: definition of conflict, types of conflict, power sources in conflict, and conflict management options. Through lecture and discussion, the researcher presented an orientation to music as a preferred medium of expression. Students were told that the purpose of the research was to explore teaching conflict management through students' perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences and the recording of their perceptions in journals.

Data collection

Participants were asked to keep a journal in which they would:

  1. describe their perceptions of conflict (if any) in their song/music preferences.
  2. make connections between the conflict dynamics they perceived in their song/music preferences and the textual material on conflict management presented in class.
  3. bring to these connections issues and associative events from their experiences in everyday communicative situations. Associative events or experiences mean events or experiences in participants' lives with which they associate in song/music preferences.
  4. describe the context in which their listening occurred.
  5. discuss, if they chose, what attracts or repels about the song/music preference.
  6. any other comments they may choose to share.

Song/music preferences were not dictated to students. When and how much they wrote depended upon their listening habits. However, they were to write in the journal at least once a week. They were to meet with the researcher at least once a week for member checks. During these member check interviews, the researcher attempted to check her interpretation of each of the respondent's prior entry(ies) with the respondent. If participants did not perceive conflict in song/music preferences, they were to state that in their journals. Confidentiality of the journals and responses during interviews was guaranteed.

Materials/Text/Instrumentation.

Verderber's & Verderber's (1989) text Inter-Act, was adopted for the course in which Phase I was conducted, and was the text used in Phase I. The text was used by students in conjunction with journal keeping of their perceptions of conflict dynamics in song/music preferences to facilitate learning about conflict and its management. Consistent with Fulwiler (1987, p. 177), the journals offered students an active and concrete means of participating in the text. A conflict analysis instrument (O'Donnell, 1983) (Appendix A) was used to supplement the text. This instrument was developed by the researcher and classmates in a special topics in research in media at the University of North Texas. This instrument assists students in defining and understanding conflicts by asking such questions as: "Who is in conflict?; What is the conflict about?; and What type of conflict is it? What power sources are being drawn upon? What conflict management strategies are being used?" The instrument was not used to establish intercoder reliability.

Trustworthiness

Requirements for trustworthiness were met through triangulation of data from multiple sources. These sources included respondents' journals, textual material (Verderber & Verderber, 1989), the supplemental instrument (Appendix A), song/music content, field notes, unrecorded observations of participants by researcher and member checks. Primary sources used for triangulation were respondents' journals, member checks with the respondents, and the course text. The text was used as a data source in that students' perceptions of the textual material was a source of evidence in triangulation. Diesing (1972, cited in Lincoln & Guba, 1985) speaks to contextual validation as comparing and evaluating from two different sources for the purpose of correcting patterns of distortion between sources. Thus, the text was used to check students' perceptions of conflict dynamics between the text, song/music preferences as recorded in the journals, and expressed in the member check interviews. Peer debriefing with on campus colleagues and through telephone contact with the dissertation committee chair and other members of the doctoral committee were also measures taken to insure trustworthiness.

Although students were enthusiastic about the project, their shyness precluded audiotaping the member check interviews. Respondent Maria Sanchez privately taped her analysis of the song/music preferences. In this case, the analysis tape was used for triangulation with the respondent's journal and the text. The text was used to establish contextual validation. As a major feature of the learning assignment context, as defined by Diesing (1972, pp. 147 148, cited in Lincoln & Guba, 1985, pp. 305 306), it was used to identify and correct patterns of distortion, i.e., inaccuracies in students' perceptions of conflict dynamics as presented in their journals and in the text. Field notes were recorded immediately following member checks because of: 1) the discomfort of the respondent with the researcher recording field notes while interviewing during member checks; and, 2) the eagerness and enthusiasm of the participants in sharing their song/music preferences and their perceived applicability to the study precluded keeping indepth field notes. While students were eager to share their song/music preferences, they were shy and uncomfortable in having the researcher record their comments either in writing or in audiotaping.

Students' journal keeping was both process and product oriented. Students and researcher shared the process of learning and discovery and sought response rather than evaluation. Formative evaluation can be seen in the journals through the connections between theoretical material learned in class and conflicts perceived in song/music preferences. Because this writing began in an exploratory dialogical situation, students came to understand that although the researcher was, through institutional necessity placed in the examiner's role, the researcher's concerns and interests in the topic and in discovery through partnership were genuine (Fulwiler, 1987, p. 52). Although the journals were not graded, the researcher was responsible for ensuring the students and the collaborating professor that the twenty bonus points were earned by and fairly credited to, the students. Thus, the researcher is described as being in the examiner's role. Although the researcher did not dialogue with students through written responses in their journals, discussions between students and researcher about their journals, as well as the internal dialogue students had with themselves leads the researcher to define the journals as dialogic.

Data Analysis

Journals were collected once a week and analyzed for responses to the six instructional items (also shown under Data Collection):

  1. What were the conflicts (if any) participants perceived in their song/music preferences?
  2. What were the connections between the conflict dynamics students perceived in their song/music preferences and the textual material on conflict management presented in class?
  3. What issues and events from their experiences in everyday communicative situations did students associate with conflict dynamics presented in class and in the text that may have made the theoretical material learned in class about conflict management more relevant in everyday communicative situations?
  4. Did students identify and describe the contexts in which their listening occurred?
  5. Did they choose to discuss what attracts or repels about their song/music preferences?
  6. Did they make other comments about their participation in the study, and if they did, what were those comments?

Analysis of responses to these items was guided by the primary research questions that provided focus for the study:

  1. Do college students perceive conflict in their song/music preferences?
  2. If college students perceive conflict in their song/music preferences, do they identify personal conflicts with these perceptions?
  3. How (if at all) can college students' perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences be used to inform theory and praxis in conflict management education?

Sampling

Using the logic of intensity sampling (Patton, 1990, p. 171), six journals were selected that manifested the phenomena of interest intensely by providing information-rich examples of the phenomena under study. The "phenomena under study" are students' perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences, the associations between these perceptions and personal experiences, and the relevance of these perceptions and associations to the theoretical material learned in class about conflict dynamics.

To facilitate archival retrieval, journals were indexed by name. Fictitious names were assigned to protect respondents' identity. Respondents' journals were assigned a code number, page numbers, and line numbers. Thus, 01.01.05 denotes respondent number one, page one, line five of that journal. In reproducing the journals in computer entries, the journal formats were reproduced consistent with the writing style of the informant, e.g., itemized conflict elements without discussion or narrative style. The journals were edited for misspelling and punctuation, while maintaining the natural language of the respondent. The examples from students' journals are intended to illustrate connections that students made between theoretical material learned in class about conflict management and perceptions of conflict they perceive in song/music preferences. The examples do not imply that these were the only connections a student made. These examples are also intended to illustrate the depth of student's involvement in the research effort.

Categorization

Glaser & Strauss (1967, pp. 36-37) acknowledge that categories can be borrowed from existing theory provided that the data are continually studied to make certain that the categories fit. These authors advocate emergent categories so that "round data" are not forced into "square categories" (p. 37). Taylor & Bogdan (1984) caution that data should not be forced into existing frameworks; however, they do say that "if concepts fit your data, do not be afraid to borrow them" (p. 135). Initial categorization of data from the study takes its lead from Glaser & Strauss (1967) who are generally credited with coining the term grounded theory, and who maintain that grounded theory is one that will "fit the situation being researched, and work when put into use" (p. 3).

By fit these authors mean that the categories must be readily and not forcibly applicable to and indicated by the data under study; and by work they mean that they must be meaningfully relevant to and be able to explain the behavior under study. Thus, these authors maintain that the concepts fit and work are essential criteria for judging whether a theory can be considered to be grounded.

Following the lead of Glaser & Strauss then, categories from the instructional text, or literary categories, were initially used because they best fit and worked for the phenomena under study. The constant comparative method was used in fitting data to these categories. Rules defining the categories were based on literary properties (definitions) of the categories (Verderber & Verderber, 1989) and the supplemental instrument (Appendix A). These sources were consulted in assigning data to these categories (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 341). The constant comparative method was also used in defining emergent categories that "clarify and validate what's going on" (Schwartz & Jacobs, 1979, p. 29). Two kinds of categories were thus abstracted: those constructed by the researcher, i.e., etic categories, and those determined by the responses of respondents (emic categories) which reflect their local language and cultural covering terms and concerns. As the students became more involved in the research and began to adapt their language to the textual language, it may be that the same data could be delegated to both an emic and etic category. Although as noted above, the data were initially examined in establishing etic categories, i.e., or literary, textual categories, all the data were examined for their fit into both etic and emic categories. That is, emic categories were not established with "left over" data. Taylor & Bogdan (1984) recommend using illustrative quotations and clear examples of research findings as evidence that, "things are the way you report them to be" (p. 154).

Lincoln & Guba (1985) state that since qualitative data will ultimately be produced in naturalistic inquiry, statistical manipulations have little relevance in data analysis. These authors state that what is at issue is the best means to make sense of the data, and to lead to "maximal understanding of the phenomenon being studied in its context (in the sense of verstehen)" (pp. 224 225). Results of this study are presented in a way that will make sense of the data by providing illustrative examples in the respondents' own language. Etic and emic categories are presented with clear examples drawn from students' journals that illustrate the fit between categories and data. Lightfoot's (1983) portraiture approach to data presentation incorporates clear examples and quotations from students' journals and is intended to illustrate how participants integrated (or did not integrate) concepts about conflict dynamics in their writing. Illustrations also show how writing about their perceptions of conflict in song/ music preferences increased students' awareness of conflict management options. Students' awareness of conflict management options is illustrated through their suggestions of better ways of managing conflicts.

Literary (Etic) Categories and Defining Rules (Definitions)

For clarity, the reader is reminded that the terms, literary etic categories and defining rules are descriptive of conflict dynamics and conflict management and are drawn from Verderber's & Verderber's (1989) course text Inter-Act. Power categories are from French & Raven (1953, cited in Verderber & Verderber, 1989).

Types of Conflict

1. Pseudoconflict. "A false conflict that appears to be real. Pseudoconflict exists when people think that the attainment of separate goals is incompatible when in fact attainment is possible" (Verderber & Verderber, 1989, p. 264).

Example: 04.46.25
  • SMP: It's Now or Never
  • Artist: Elvis Presley
    • ". . . he's issuing an ultimatum . . . and the person at the other side of this conflict can only withdraw or surrender. He leaves room for no other option in the matter."

2. Content conflict. "A conflict concerning message accuracy is known as content conflict and can take several forms:

  •  
    •  
      • A. The conflict may be over a fact.
      • B. The conflict may be over an interpretation of a fact or an inference drawn from a fact or series of facts.
      • C. The conflict may be over a definition.
      • D. The conflict may be over a choice among goals, actions, or means of arriving at goals" (p. 265).
Example: 04.07.02 30
  • SMP: Dem Bones Gonna Rise Again
  • Artist: The artist is not cited.
    • Mr. (Brown) has confused historical fact with his own religious doctrine. I quickly reminded him that Christ is not mentioned in this song and if his intention was to acquaint the children with historical events that perhaps he should wait til spring, since that's the time of year in which Christ was born.

3. Value Conflict. "A value conflict represents a difference in views of life in general (or of an aspect of life) that is brought into focus on a particular issue. A value, then, serves as a frame of reference to determine the relative worth of any object, situation, or behavior" (p. 265).

Example: 01.11.03 14
  • SMP: Wham! Rap '86
  • Artist: Wham!
    • Conflict within him over holding a job and not having one. He thinks you'll rot in a job (have fun) yet he seems a little concerned about it threatening his manhood . . . I totally disagree with him. Work is very important, yet one should still have fun. Responsibility and fun should be balanced. He has gone to an extreme.

4. Ego Conflict. "Ego conflict occurs when the people in conflict view "winning" or "losing" the conflict as a measure of their expertise, personal worth, or image. In such situations the content of the conflict becomes less important than the egos of the people involved. Ego conflict represents the most difficult kind of conflict to manage" (p. 266).

Example: 01.04.03 13

The ego conflict is not specifically stated, but is identified by example:

  • SMP: Do You Know, Do You Care:
  • Artist: Phil Collins
    • The conflict is between him and a woman. She uses verbal aggression and revenge on him. His power is low. He gives his self esteem to her by acting like a child like she is.

Patterns of Managing Conflict

1. Withdrawal. "Entails physically or psychologically removing oneself from the situation" (p. 267). (Avoidance)

Example: 05.02.01 02
  • SMP: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
  • Artist: The Beatles
    • John Lennon or Paul McCartney sings about a place where there is no conflict whatsoever. But inside there is a conflict. He uses drugs to withdraw from the conflict. When he comes back to reality, he finds that the problems are still there.
Example: 01.03.04 29
  • SMP: Ride on Time
  • Artist: Black Box
    • Conflict between a woman in love and time (time can destroy a relationship). Withdrawal psychology. The woman pretends she can control the progression of time. No resolution is reached. She'll just escape reality thru her imagination.

2. Discussion (prosocial) "Consists of a verbal weighing and considering of the pros and cons of the issues in conflict" (pp. 270 272).

Example: 05.07.01 12
  • SMP: No Rest for the Wicked
  • Artist: Ozzy Osbourne
    • This song basically talks about him being worshipped by the millions of his fans. He's saying to his fans not to idolize him because he feels that he can't live up to what they think of him. I think that this song is an example of an ego conflict because in the past Ozzy has portrayed this wicked person that wants you to kill yourself and in the song lyrics he says to his fans "I don't want to be your hero, I don't want to ever let you down." It seems that he is trying to solve his problem through the discussion method. He weighs the good and bad points of his music.

3. Surrender. "Means giving in immediately to avoid conflict" (p. 269).

Example: 04.01.04-16
  • SMP: When A Man Loves A Woman
  • Artist: Michael Bolton
    • Inner conflict between the rational self and emotions . . . in effect he becomes enslaved to the object of his affections by surrendering his powers of reason . . . he becomes a non entity. So that he uses two methods of coping with the initial conflict -surrender of his powers of reason to his emotion; and withdrawal because through the absence of his sense of reason he avoids a conflict between his feelings and his better judgement.

4. Aggression. "The use of physical or psychological coercion to get one's way" (p. 270).

Example: 02.06.23
  • SMP: Behind the Wall
  • Artist: Tracy Chapman
    • This song tells the story of people who are heard yelling and screaming at some neighbors. The police says he's trying to keep the peace but by this time its too late because a woman's been beaten so badly. The man who does the beating would have coercive power because he's capable of beating the woman.

5. Persuasion. "An attempt to change either the attitude or the behavior of another person" (p. 270).

Example: 01.05.12 26
  • SMP: Hand to Mouth
  • Artist: George Michael
    • The conflict is between people and their poverty-hookers, adoption, suicide, loss of faith and hope for change. One person tries to persuade the government to help the rest surrender also- they just say this is my situation and I can't change it.

 

Sources of Power

Power and Influence. "Power represents the potential to influence others" (French & Raven, 1953, cited in Verderber & Verderber, 1989, p. 238).

1. Legitimate Power "Occurs when a person has the right to influence another because of the authority he or she has been granted by society" (p. 239). (position and possession)

Example: 06.04.02 15
  • SMP: First Love
  • Artist: Petra
    • This song talks about our loving Savior who is our first love, and will forgive us our mistakes. God has legitimate power, and in some ways, reward power (eternal life is definitely first prize!)

2. Reward Power. "When a person is capable of providing things for other people that they desire to have- derives from the ability or potential ability of one person to bestow monetary, physical, or psychological benefits on another person" (p. 240). (knowledge, skill, credibility, interpersonal attractiveness, physical strength, position, and possession)

Example: 04.05.01 17
  • SMP: Nutra System Jingle
  • Artist: Television Commercial
    • ". . . this jingle seems to imply that obesity is psychosomatic; and that if you call the number given they'll tighten the screws loose in your head so that you'll quickly revert to a skinny way of thinking . . . they mention a small amount of money and suggest that you can lose all the weight you want for that teeny, tiny sum.

3. Coercive Power. "Occurs when a person is capable of punishing others, either physically or psychologically" (pp. 240-241). (knowledge, skill, credibility, interpersonal attractiveness, physical strength, position, and possession)

Example: 02.09.03 30
  • SMP: Blue Dress
  • Artist: Depeche Mode
    • This conflict involves verbal aggression. The words say `Put it on and don't say a word.' I'd suppose the power source would be physical strength, because he is a man and he's saying do this! Its weird how when hearing the song you don't think of the man as being mean because he's not going to hurt the woman, he just wants to see the dress on her. Quite confusing.

4. Expert Power. "Exists when a person has more information or skill in an area than do most other people" (p. 241). (knowledge, skill, and credibility)

Example: 02.02.16 19
  • SMP: Behind the Wall
  • Artist: Tracy Chapman
    • I suppose the policemen would be the power figures in this scenario. They have the "Expert Power" because what they say goes no matter what.

5. Referent Power. "Exists when a person has the potential to influence others because they respect the one attempting to influence. This type of power increases the value of the other bases of power" (p. 242). (knowledge, skill, credibility, and may also be interpersonal attractiveness)

Example: 03.03.01 11
  • SMP: A Hard Rains a'Gonna Fall
  • Artist: Bob Dylan
    • This tune is a good example of physical and verbal aggression. The song was written by Bob when he thought it was his last day to live because of the Cuban Missile crisis. That conflict definitely had both aspects of aggression. Dylan is a good power source because when you listen to the lyrics he creates images that challenge our existence; a definite part of knowledge.

Power balance in relationships. "Based on interdependency in a relationship--and when equally distributed is likely to be more satisfying for both members because each person will influence the nature and direction of their interactions" (p. 243). In this study, power status was defined at three levels: 1) high; 2) low; and 3) equal.

Example perception of low power: 06.02.08 19
  • SMP: Mine Field
  • Artist: Petra
    • The devil is the god of this world, and this song describes our life as a walk through a mine field. If we keep the Lord as our guide, we will be safe, but otherwise . . . the world seems to have more power and more sources of it, because Christians don't grasp their power, they merely attempt to avoid the situation.
Example of Equal/Shared Power: 01.04.06 05-08
  • SMP: Something to Save
  • Artist: George Michael
    • Conflict between him and an ex girlfriend. The power is shared . . . he isn't forcing anything (feelings, choices, etc.) on her.
Example of High Power: 01.04.06-05-08
  • SMP: You've Got No Hold
  • Artist: Chuckie P.
    • . . . he demonstrates high power. He breaks away from the devil's influence through position/possession (being strong in God).

 

Issues are central in the design of conflict management strategies.

Spradley (1979, cited in Lincoln & Guba, 1985) suggests that "domains--categories--may be names for things, cover terms and relationships" (p. 340). Lincoln & Guba (1985, p. 342) state that knowledge of properties makes it possible to write a rule for placement of data into categories. Categories that emerged from the data of respondents were based upon the concepts and properties of issues, or domains of concern. The following general categories based on their rules were established:

Abstracted (Emic) Categories

Educational. Concern with lack of personal power in formal educational process, curriculum, and practices.

Example: 06.03.01 28
  • SMP: King George
  • Artist: White Heart
    • This song discusses the conflicts of Christians with today's society. This conflict affects me as a student. It frustrates me to go to my classes and have to hear humanist theories, without any opposing views. I don't, in many cases, have facts to confront these theories.

Political. Concern with political pressures, persons, outcomes, or legislative influence or process.

Example: 03.02.18 27
  • SMP: Good-bye Blue Skies
  • Artist: Pink Floyd
    • The lyrics of this work speak to the possibility that one day there will be no more views of the blue sky because of the way we are destroying the earth, e.g., war. The main personal conflict this inspires in me is the fear that it might happen. It makes me want to do something to change our deathly direction.
Spiritual. Concern with spiritual welfare of self or others.
Example: 01.03.1-11
  • SMP: You've Got No Hold
  • Artist: Chuckie P.
    • He breaks away from the devil's influence through position/possession (being strong in God).

Economic. Concern with economic status of self or others.

Example: 03.03.23-29
  • SMP: Snowblind Friend
  • Artist: Steppenwolf
    • His song is a story of a person who has one dollar to his or her name -and they spend it on cocaine. Instead of looking for drug rehabilitation, they avoid the problem with a quick high.

Rational. Concern with loss of rationality of self or others.

Example: 04.01.02-24
  • SMP: When a Man Loves a Woman
  • Artist: Michael Bolton
    • ". . . inner conflict between the rational self and emotions . . . it further suggests that he'll go to any lengths to avoid any conflict with his rational self--that he completely surrenders his sense of reason to the emotion that is apparently leading to his self destruction simply because it feels good."

Physical. Concern with physical status of self or others.

Example: 01.06.17-07.09
  • SMP: Look at Your Hands
  • Artist: George Michael
    • . . . conflict between him and an ex lover, who is now abused. He tries to make her see her situation, she is blind to it. He wants her back. Management is prosocial. He explains her situation to her. Yet at times he is a little verbally aggressive--a little unempathetic--"I bet you don't like your life now." Power is medium. He may be able to make her leave the abuser for him by telling her to look at what's happening. Yet it is totally her choice. There is no resolution. He still is trying to get her back; she's still with the abuser.

Parental. Concern with parental acceptance and acknowledgment.

Example: 02.03.02
  • SMP: Hide Away
  • Artist: Erasure
    • It's a double conflict because first of all its between a person and himself and you know, like things that he's going through because of the fact that he's gay. And it also tells of the conflict he's having between himself and his parents, because they don't seem to understand or want to accept him for what he is.

Dominance. Concerned with dominance over another.

Example: 02.01.25 (audiotape transcript) 02.04.03 31 (journal)
  • SMP: Crybaby
  • Artist: Madonna
    • This song, I think, the woman has some sort of coercive power because she is capable of punishing this man psychologically, because of the way that she's putting him down because she's making fun of the way he is and she's not appreciating him for who he is.

Racial. Concern with differential treatment and/or racial separateness.

Example: 03.04.26-05.05
  • SMP: Southern Man
  • Artist: Neil Young
    • This song alludes to the terrible treatment given to Blacks in America's history. The conflict is managed by verbal aggression. Neil is basically speaking out at the past and even the present. In a way he is warning that revenge may be apparent in the future.

The following journal summaries are intended to show how respondents integrated the theoretical concepts about conflict dynamics in their writing about their perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences.

 

Awareness of Multiple Options through Integration of Concepts

Carolyn.

Carolyn St. John draws from "Do You Have a Problem with That" by male vocalist, Chuckie P. to show her interpretation of a value conflict a young man (the artist) has with others because they judge his Christianity. Carolyn perceives that this young man is using the prosocial conflict management option to manage the value conflict, ("He stands up for his belief"), yet she recognizes that the young man is leaning toward verbal aggression as a management option. Thus, Carolyn demonstrates awareness of conflict management options, and recognizes subtle dimensions between these options. She interprets the artist as having high power status in this conflict; his power source is his interpersonal attractiveness. In "Things that Make You Go Hmmmm," by C & C Music Factory, Carolyn perceives value conflicts and ego conflicts between the sexes. She cites avoidance as the conflict management option. She recognizes that the problems in each situation are not solved in the song, and that participants in the conflict do not suggest solutions. She sees that both men and women in each conflict situation in the song believe they are being treated unfairly. They display low power: "They get mad or hurt by the other's actions, yet do nothing." In this example, Carolyn demonstrates awareness that avoidance as a conflict management option is not, in her opinion, the best choice because no resolutions are reached. Carolyn is able to recommend alternative options: "The best would be thru an outside party or prosocially." The distinction that is made here between "outside party," and "prosocial" as conflict management options is that "outside party" can be seen as prosocial management, but refers to consultation with a third party, e.g., a mediator such as a minister or counselor, while "prosocial management option" refers to discussion between the conflicting parties. The prosocial management option as discussion is illustrated by Carolyn in "Freedom '90" by George Michael, which is a song about a conflict between Michael and his fans. The type of conflict is not specifically cited in this example, but Carolyn is able to describe the conflict. Michael uses the prosocial management option of discussion: "He explains his feelings then sticks up for them." He displays high power status through the power sources of position and possession. He is sure of his position and possesses personal confidence and demonstrates this by standing up for his new choices "whether or not others agree." Carolyn interprets this conflict management approach as "resolution with himself" because: "He doesn't back away from his personal choices." He says: "It may not be what you want from me, that's the way it's got to be." In George Michael's "Something to Save," Carolyn identifies the prosocial conflict management option in a conflict she perceives between Michael and an ex girlfriend with whom he wants to remain on good terms: "He is expressing his feelings and reasons why it is the best choice for them to be friends." In the dissolution of this relationship, a specific type of conflict is not cited. The power status is shared, because "he is not forcing anything (feelings, choices, etc.) on her." Carolyn believes that he "basically reaches resolution," but she interprets some reluctance on his part in that "he wishes he could change her, but that he isn't trying to [force change]."

Carolyn again indicates awareness of avoidance as an ineffective conflict management option in "Ride on Time" by Blackbox. In this example, Carolyn perceives and identifies an ego conflict between a woman and time. The woman in love fears losing her man to time. Carolyn demonstrates understanding of the basis of the conflict in her parenthetical statement: "Time can destroy a relationship." Carolyn identifies avoidance as: "The management option is withdrawal psychology; the woman pretends she can control the progression of time." Carolyn explains that: "In not being able to control her situation in the way she wishes, the woman demonstrates low power, and thus does not reach a resolution, she'll just escape reality (through her imagination)."

In a journal entry dated October 31, Carolyn integrates multiple conflict management options and makes a personal association in an ego conflict that she perceives in and interprets through writing about the song "Battlestations" by Wham! The ego conflict is interpreted as "they both play head games and the only thing that holds them together is sex." The management options are verbal aggression, "they argue all the time . . . [and] he calls her a baby;" and revenge, "he reads her diary;" and avoidance, "she won't pick up the phone, she lets the answering machine take his calls." Carolyn interprets verbal aggression as the best mode of management in this conflict because: "At least he's getting his anger out (expressing it) even if it's not prosocial." Carolyn identifies a shared power status through skill (lovemaking skills) and comments, "no communication skills here." Her personal association is stated as: "I saw my uncle in many such relationships--it's disgusting."

In a journal entry dated October 25, the polar continuum of good vs. evil is evident in Carolyn's interpretation of an ego conflict or value conflict (she isn't sure of this distinction) in Chuckie P.'s "You've Got No Hold," a "conflict between good and evil--him and the devil." In this conflict, the management option is an outside party (mediator) who is God, and the man in the song demonstrates high power through the power source of position/possession interpreted as his being strong in God, which helps him break away from the devil's influence. Carolyn repeats this song/music preference in a journal entry dated October 30, five days later. In this entry, Carolyn interprets the song as being "about the resolution," in a conflict between the artist and Satan. She restates the conflict management option as assertiveness: "He just says no way, you can't control me." The artist's power status remains high in that "the devil can't control him now. He has power in God." In this interpretation, the resolution is his power: "He just decides God is the only way. His faith keeps him from being controlled by Satan." Continuing this religious theme in an entry dated November 1, Carolyn interprets a conflict in "I Commit" by Margaret Becker. Carolyn does not cite a type of conflict, but describes the conflict as: "Her conflict is a final decision to serve God or not." She interprets the conflict management as prosocial, in that the woman in the song doesn't get angry, "she makes a rational decision." Carolyn notes that prosocial as being "one of the best ways to handle a conflict," thus indicating awareness of multiple conflict management options. Carolyn interprets the woman as having high power status: "She has the ability to make a wise decision through her knowledge of God." The woman in the conflict resolves the conflict "through her decision to serve God and live her life for him." In this entry, Carolyn makes a personal association with this conflict: "This is an example of a struggle I am dealing with--do I want to commit myself to God, act as a Christian, believe as a Christian?

Carolyn acknowledges difficulty in identifying a conflict management option in "A Different Corner" by Wham! The conflict is between a man and his continued feelings for the woman:

He hurts, yet can't let go of his love for her (and what they had). Management is difficult to figure out because he doesn't lean toward a positive or negative side . . . he is just confused . . . part of him says `who cares,' and the other [part of him] is thankful for the experience. The man's power status is cited as low because, `he can't let her go, but he can't resolve his feelings.'

In the song "In Too Deep" by Phil Collins, Carolyn describes a conflict between him and his lover in which the relationship seems to be dying without either party being at fault: "It's just the way it is." Carolyn hears the man expressing great pain: ". . . crying at the top of my lungs and no one listening." She interprets the prosocial management option because: "He explains his feelings, his actions, and he sounds apologetic." Carolyn indicates her involvement in the interpretation of this song/music preference: "As I listen longer and more closely, it sounds as if he loved her more than she loved him." The power status of the man is cited as high because he knows that "he must do what is right for him." Carolyn perceives that the man does resolve the conflict: "By the end [of the song], I feel like he's ended this pain for himself . . . this song is his closure." In writing about a conflict involving a triangle relationship in "One or the Other" by Paula Abdul, Carolyn cites the prosocial management option when one girl "stands up for herself, tells him her feelings, but isn't hurtful (even if he is a scum)." Thus, Carolyn demonstrates sensitivity to others and awareness that standing up for oneself does not necessitate hurting the other party. She recognizes that there is no resolution for the man until "he makes up his mind." However, she perceives the woman as being able to handle any decision the man makes. In this analysis, Carolyn indicates that writing about her perception of conflict in the song/music preference helped her realize the importance of prosocial conflict management interpreted as self-esteem: "It makes me see how important self-esteem and assertiveness are." She continues to make distinctions between conflict management options in identifying persuasion and avoidance in "Why Can't It Wait 'Til Morning?" by Phil Collins. In this song/music preference, the conflict isn't clearly stated, but whatever it is, "she [the woman in the song] wants to discuss it now, he doesn't." In this conflict, the management is through withdrawal (avoidance) and persuasion, because "he doesn't want to think about it now," but he uses persuasion in saying, "I just want to hold you close to me . . . I just want to sleep . . . stay here with your arms around me." Carolyn interprets persuasion as the most effective management option in this song: "There's a lot of persuasion by being romantic." Carolyn perceives shared [equal] power between the man and woman in this conflict. She recommends an alternative option for the woman in the conflict: "She doesn't have to go along with his persuasions, she can state she wants to talk now." Carolyn recognizes that "it may not work," but that the woman "will have some control over events." In this analysis, Carolyn indicates awareness that the conflict is not resolved, as well as her involvement in the analysis through the questions she asks at the end of the entry, "Do they work it out? Does just holding her solve it all?" Carolyn empathizes with the man's approach, and reiterates her recommendation: "I can understand his desire to deny, avoid conflict, especially thru trying to be close . . . it seems like a good solution, but talking is always the best."

 

Maria.

In addition to her journal, Maria Sanchez provided an audiotape of her analyses of her perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences. Her willingness to do so, and the depth of her analyses on the audiotape, demonstrate her involvement with the research. This summary integration of concepts about conflict dynamics is taken from her journal entries and from her elaboration upon these entries that she provides on the audiotape.

In Tracy Chapman's "Behind the Wall," Maria perceives and describes a violent domestic conflict involving the police: "The song tells the story of people who are heard [by neighbors] yelling and screaming." She demonstrates awareness of multiple conflict management options by identifying verbal and physical aggression, third party (mediator) intervention and avoidance as the management options. The third party is the police who are called to intervene in the conflict, where a man is beating a woman. Maria perceives that the policemen use avoidance in managing this conflict: "It's a domestic affair and the police don't want to deal with it." Maria demonstrates that she recognizes the outcome of this avoidance option: "The song tells how later on an ambulance comes and then the police[man] says he's trying to keep the peace but by this time it's too late because a woman's been beaten so badly." In this conflict, Maria recognizes the policemen as the power figures and she identifies their type of power: "They have the `Expert Power' because what they say goes no matter what." Maria distinguishes between power types: "The man who does the beating would have `coercive' power because he's capable of beating the woman." Maria demonstrates involvement in this scenario by extending the conflict to include herself. She indicates how the listener [herself] becomes a party to the conflict, ". . . and the conflict is between the police and the listener, because I get so angry knowing those men let crime go on and don't care." Thus, Maria identifies the policemen's delay (avoidance) as not caring, and this not caring attitude makes her angry. Maria also demonstrates involvement with analyses of her perceptions of conflict in Madonna's "Something to Remember." Maria interprets this song as being about a love that was never to be and expresses her involvement in her statement: "It makes me so sad, because this tells of a woman who really loves a man but is never able to have a relationship with him." She makes a personal association with this song: "This happened to me when my boyfriend broke up with me and it was not in my power to get him back." In this analyses, Maria recognizes that while conflict can be painful, it does not have to be bad: "This conflict is not necessarily bad even though the woman's hurt." Maria comments that conflict can occur without "the man being really mean." Maria does not perceive power sources in this conflict: "There isn't really a `power' figure in this conflict. It's just a conflict of love lost without the man being really mean." Thus, Maria approaches awareness of the healthy transitional aspects of conflict. Maria continues her personal association with her perceptions of conflict in song/music through her analyses of "Pictures of You" by The Cure. In this analysis, Maria perceives an internal conflict [intrapersonal] which she describes in the audiotape analyses as "it's just like confusion," and in her journal entry as being "more like loneliness." This internal conflict is created by the absence of her boyfriend who "is in school at Stanford." She personally associates with this conflict through her statement, ". . . and this hits close to home once again because my boyfriend's far away and all I have right now [are] the pictures to look at." Maria does not perceive power in this conflict: "There's not really a source of power." However, she does establish awareness of different power sources: "This has nothing to do with money or power." She recommends that "the only way this conflict could be resolved is for them to see each other." Maria chooses Sarah Brightmann's "Think of Me," to demonstrate her perception of a conflict between characters in the song, although she indicates that she is not sure what the conflict is about, " . . . so I guess its some sort of conflict in that relationship . . . I don't really know the situation." She identifies the participants in this conflict as Christine and Raoul from Phantom of the Opera. Maria perceives that Christine uses the prosocial mode to manage the conflict because "she talks through the problem" in asking Raoul to remember her. Maria identifies the power source as interpersonal attractiveness. Maria perceives the conflict as being resolved because "in the end they're both happy and the love is together again." The conflict is resolved "when the male's voice [Raoul] comes in and says, `I will remember you." Maria does respond to how this conflict relates to her life: "This song relates to my life because I like romance." In her perceptions of a conflict between two lovers in the song "A Little Respect" by Erasure, Maria perceives the man in the song to be using the prosocial conflict management option because "the singer tries to make peace by giving simple comments." Maria recognizes that "the other party doesn't respond." Maria recommends that the conflict could be resolved through the prosocial conflict management option of discussion: "It seems maybe if these folks would discuss their problem, they could be happy."

 

James. James Kelly is reminded of an inner conflict which he perceives in "Ripple" by The Grateful Dead. He relates this conflict to his personal life, ". . . when the lyrics speak of being alone and watching the water roll on the shore, I am reminded of inner [intrapersonal] conflict." He continues: "The scene is much like the one I might withdraw to when I'm home and have a personal problem to be worked out." Thus, James demonstrates that he recognizes withdrawal [avoidance] as a conflict management option which he uses in problem solving. James recognizes the role of third parties in conflict from a different perspective; not that of mediator, but as instigators of conflict: "The song also reminds me of conflicts instigated by third parties." In reference to third parties as instigators, James uses an analogy to show how influences of conflict spread: "Just as a rock creates ripples in the water, so do others promote ripples of a different sort across the land."

James personally relates to the conflicts that he perceives in "Our House" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: "The lyrics speak of the epitome of the all American family . . . this was not my family situation; and I'm glad." He continues: "While I grew up in [a] progressive home, I was constantly bothered by the 'typical family.'" He does not elaborate upon how he was bothered by the typical family, nor does he identify specific conflicts. He expresses his views of the typical American family: "I think it retards evolution within the American framework." James continues to express awareness of conflict, without elaboration upon the types of conflict. In "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley & the Wailers, James is reminded of the "plight of the Blacks in history." He identifies physical aggression: "It addresses the issues of slavery and beatings." He states that these issues are synonymous with conflicting viewpoints, but doesn't clearly identify whose viewpoints. In Pink Floyd's "Good bye Blue Skies," James expresses a "main personal conflict this [song] inspires in me is the fear that one day there will be no more views of the blue sky." He describes aggression through his statement, ". . . because we are destroying the earth, e.g., war." Thus, James demonstrates awareness of potential outcomes of aggression as a conflict management option without specifically stating this awareness. James demonstrates his involvement with this perception of conflict: "It makes me want to do something to change our deathly direction." James becomes more text specific in identifying conflict management options in Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's a'Gonna Fall." He states: "This tune is a good example of physical and verbal aggression." The song was "written by Bob when he thought it was his last day to live because of the Cuban Missile Crisis." He reiterates his awareness of verbal and physical aggression: "That conflict definitely had both aspects of aggression." James begins to identify power sources in this example: "Dylan is a good power source because when you listen to the lyrics he creates images that challenge our existence; a definite part of knowledge." Thus, James demonstrates awareness of knowledge as power, and Dylan as the source of that power. James continues to demonstrate awareness and integration of the concepts of conflict dynamics in Dylan's "The Times They are a'Changin'." In this song, James demonstrates awareness of avoidance as a conflict management option: "To me, he [Dylan] comments on how the world is always evolving, yet there are those who don't want it to happen." Avoidance is used when, ". . . they want to avoid new experiences." James recognizes how avoidance in this situation may "produce verbal or physical aggression, depending on the rigidity of their avoidance." Thus, James demonstrates awareness that effectiveness of avoidance as a conflict management option is contingent upon how and when it is used. James perceives avoidance in Steppenwolf's "Snowblind Friend," a song about a person who spends all of his money on cocaine. "This signals avoidance in that person." In this example, James suggests an alternative conflict management option: "Instead of looking for drug rehabilitation, they avoid the problem with a quick high." James identifies a type of power in this example: "This musical group has correct [expert] power to speak to this issue because they have seen friends in situations similar to this one." James demonstrates awareness of multiple conflict management options without specifically citing applications of these options in Neil Young's "Only Love can Break Your Heart." In this song James is reminded of avoidance, revenge, verbal, and physical aggression. He interprets the song as "the song talks about how trouble can cause you problems, but only love can injure your heart." James demonstrates awareness of the complexities of relationships: "In love, it seems to me that many variances of conflict management take place because of the complexities of relationships."

 

Juanita. Juanita Reynosa perceives and identifies an inner [intrapersonal] conflict in Michael Bolton's, "When a Man Loves a Woman." She describes the conflict as an "inner conflict between the rational self and emotions," thus reflecting the polar continuum of rationality vs. subjectivity.

This song suggests that the feel of love sometimes comes into conflict with a man's common [sense] and leads him to do things that are illogical and contrary to his physical and emotional well being.

Juanita describes this loss of rationality as: "He becomes enslaved to the object of his affections by surrendering his powers of reason." Juanita demonstrates awareness of multiple conflict management options: "Surrender of his powers of reason to his emotion and withdrawal because through the absence of his sense of reason he avoids a conflict between his feelings and his better judgement." She describes the consequences of these conflict management options as: "In essence, he becomes a non entity." Juanita elaborates upon these consequences, ". . . he'll go to any lengths to avoid any conflict with his rational self . . . he completely surrenders his sense of reason to the emotion that is apparently leading to his self destruction." Juanita supports this perspective with lyrics from the song:

He'll give up all his comfort Sleep out in the rain If she says that it ought to be. Juanita identifies pseudoconflict: "Obviously, then, there also exists a pseudoconflict because he views his emotions and powers of reason as being incapable of functioning in harmony with one another . . . he abandons one for the other." Juanita suggests a way to manage the conflict: "Perhaps if he allowed the conflict to take place, [healthy confrontation, prosocial] he would recognize the illusion he's created for himself; and his emotions and common sense could then work together to create a sense of balance and well being within him." Juanita's involvement with this perception of conflict and her empathy for the man in conflict can be seen in her statement:

I don't know who wrote the lyrics of this song, but I can't help wondering if it was the same person responsible for the anti drug commercial where the narrator says, `Finally, a perspective on what it's like to use cocaine from the inside'- and then there's a man inside a little vial full of white powder."

Juanita further elaborates on her perception of the consequences of avoidance and withdrawal as conflict management options in this perceived conflict:

Obviously, he invites conflict in every other area of his life, (health, physical comfort, financial security, self esteem, other personal relationships, and would rather engage in a losing battle with these rather than face and resolve the inevitable conflict between his rational self and his emotions.

She supports these perceptions through the lyrics:

If she's bad he can't see it
She can do no wrong
Turns his back on his best friend
If he puts her down.

Juanita perceives that a man and a woman are experiencing intrapersonal conflict between the intellect and emotions, and a value conflict in Wilson Phillips' "Release Me." Juanita describes the woman's conflict as intrapersonal because the woman in the song, the speaker, is describing a fear that she has faced and conquered:

Her mind tells her that the relationship is not conducive to her own happiness and that it must be dissolved. But she fears the pain that may come with the change and questions whether or not she'll have the courage to see it through.

Juanita perceives the woman in the song empathizing with the man in the song [the woman's lover] because he is experiencing the same inner conflict and is unable to resolve the conflict. Juanita perceives rationality emerging as triumphant in the struggle between reason and emotion: "Her own reason has emerged the winner in the struggle between her heart and mind." Juanita demonstrates awareness of prosocial management:

The woman in the song realizes that in order to resolve her intrapersonal conflict and make the change she fears, she must help the man resign himself to the inevitable, as she has done. She appeals to his sense of reason in an attempt to persuade him to help her cut the ties between them.

Come on baby--come on baby You know it was time to just let go 'Cause we want to be free But somehow its just not that easy.

Through her perceptions of how the woman in the song manages the conflict process, Juanita appears to become more aware of power distribution in conflict management:

In the process of this she gains just enough insight to recognize that she has, of herself, given him a degree of control over her emotions and that she needs only to retract her consent to render him powerless.

Juanita recognizes that with insight, the woman in conflict changes her conflict management option: "Now instead of appealing to his senses through gentle persuasion and reasoning, she is making a demand that he accept the outcome of their last and final conflict."

I'm not going back to you anymore, Finally my weakened heart is healing though, very slow So stop coming around my door! 'Cause you're not gonna find What you're looking for!

Juanita perceives the conflict between the man and woman to have ended since the woman withdraws from the conflict: "The conflict between the two of them ends now since she has withdrawn as a participant." However, there seems to be a contradiction in Juanita's understanding of conflict as a process in her perception of the woman's continuing to help the man resolve his inner [intrapersonal] conflict:

But he is left with his own inner conflict and she makes one final attempt to help him end it by showing him the way out of it: Release me, Won't you release me?

Juanita's involvement with her perceptions of conflict in this song seems apparent in her indepth analysis of the song. She perceives multiple conflict management options in the song. However, she does not directly relate the conflict to her personal life. She does demonstrate awareness of the complexities of relationships and the role of power in relationships.

Juanita seems to keep an open mind in describing her perceptions of a value conflict between a man and woman in Elvis Presley's "It's Now or Never": "Apparently, the speaker is trying to persuade an unwilling partner to sleep with him . . . this conflict may have arisen because of a difference in values--or she simply may have a headache."

It's now or never, Come hold me tight. Kiss me my darling, Be mine tonight, Tomorrow will be too late. It's now or never- My love won't wait.

In this analysis, Juanita perceives that the man is using coercive power, or the cost reward method, in "trying to influence her into seeing things his way." She states that, "although the music in itself does not give a hint of it the lyrics indicate a forceful or aggressive attitude . . . ." Juanita recognizes that in issuing an ultimatum, the other party in the conflict can only, "withdraw or surrender. He leaves room for no other option in the matter." Thus, Juanita demonstrates awareness of options, and the lack of options available to the other participant. She suggests consequences of this type of conflict management:

Consequently, although the song gives no indication of what the other person decides to do, has to be negative because the unwilling partner is not given an opportunity to negotiate or even voice her feelings about the matter.

Juanita elaborates upon the consequences of options available to the woman in the conflict: "If she chooses to withdraw the relationship will have ended, and if she surrenders her values will have been compromised; in which case the conflict will undoubtedly resurface." Juanita recommends alternative options: "A much more desirable and productive method of managing this conflict would be discussion. Then each of them would have the opportunity to empathize with the other and come to an agreement suitable to both of them."

Juanita describes the context in which she heard this song. She appears to transfer awareness of conflict management options across contexts:

It's a funny thing, but I never viewed this song in this light before today. What made it come into focus like this is that it was used in a television commercial for a diamond engagement ring. I heard the music from the kitchen and didn't think much of it, but when I casually looked toward the TV, expecting to see something in connection with Elvis, the contradiction between the lyrics and the occasion they were depicting suddenly hit me. I guess that the makers of this commercial want to say, 'if you buy her a diamond she won't have a choice because you'll be meeting her need for material things in a way no one else will,'- you know, create dependence. They must assume that all the men watching are going to propose to Madonna.

As she continues writing about conflict management in her journal, Juanita appears to become more personally involved. She describes a conflict between herself and her daughter, and officials at the school her daughter attends. The conflict begins over song/music content used in the school curriculum to celebrate Christmas. Juanita identifies the song in the conflict as a Negro spiritual, "Dem Bones Gonna' Rise Again." The artist is not cited. She identifies this as a values conflict [although it can be described as a content and fact conflict]. She describes her reaction to the song:

I heard this song the day before I started writing this journal. It made me quite angry and since the conflict that arose between myself and the music teacher has not been resolved as yet I think about it a lot.

My daughter is in the school choir and though I expected that she would be singing some Christmas carols, I was shocked to hear the kids sing this one. I don't remember all the words. But it goes something like this:

God thought he'd make a man --dem bones gonna' rise again He made him of mud and a handful of sand --dem bones gonna' rise again.

Juanita continues with her perception of the content and meaning of the song: "Then it goes on to tell that Adam & Eve ate an apple, God got mad and then he kicked them out of the garden -but we shouldn't fret because dem bones gonna' rise again." Juanita spoke to [Mr. Brown], the music teacher, about the use of the song, ". . . and it seems that he's teaching the kids this song because he feels it has some historical value or bearing on the Christmas season." She continues to use discussion as an option in managing the conflict: "I quickly reminded him that Christ is not mentioned in this song." Juanita seems to perceive a conflict over fact in the issue of Christ's birthdate, ". . . and that if his intention was to acquaint the children with historical events that perhaps he should wait till Spring, since that's the time of year in which Christ was born." She reminds [Mr. Brown] of his introduction to the song the evening of the school Christmas program: "I reminded him of his . . . introduction of this particular song, he said, 'next is a song I'm sure you've heard a hundred times. But we have our own unique way of doing it because we don't like to do things like everybody else.'" Juanita perceived that she was "given the shaft" in this discussion. She became infuriated, and ended the discussion with [Mr. Brown]. She applied another conflict management option, third party (mediator) and appealed to a higher authority [power]: "So I ended my discussion with him and took it up with the school principal who assured me that it was not the intention of either the school or [Mr. Brown] to indoctrinate the children." Juanita clarifies the issues in this conflict:

I informed the principal of my strong feelings about the separation of church and state and also reminded him of the inconsistency that comes into focus when one considers what the children are learning in their science class. I further stressed the difficult job a parent has in impressing the importance of an education on their children- especially if the educators are inconsistent in what they say.

Juanita acknowledges some satisfaction that resulted from her interaction with the principal: "[Mr. Johnson] the principal, listened and agreed with me somewhat -but I didn't feel as if he really heard what I was saying." Although the principal agreed to "issue a directive that any song with religious connotations should be accompanied with historical data." Juanita does not consider the conflict resolved: "Well, there wasn't much I could do." She demonstrates awareness of legitimate power as a conflict management option at a higher level: "My next step would be to take this matter to the school board." She describes potential consequences of this action: "I'm reluctant to do so because I feel that it won't be settled there either . . . it could blow up to such proportions . . . and I may wind up taking it to the Supreme Court." Juanita continues to demonstrate her involvement with the conflict through her discussion of her feelings about the conflict:

On the other hand I feel strongly that I alone have the right to teach my daughter whatever I believe is true about God and religion- and the notion that `Dem Bones Gonna' Rise Again' does not find place in my religious doctrine. I also feel bullied by members of the Christian community who promote this rather superstitious view of things and that the school is helping them do so. I'm just as offended as they would be if I went to the school and taught the children a song with religious connotations that speaks about God and His process of evolution.

Of using discussion as a conflict management option in this conflict with the school officials, Juanita writes: "Although I was able to control my anger while discussing this matter with the school principal, I've been simmering ever since." The conflict continued: "[Mr. Brown] continues to teach the children Christmas carols and I understand from my daughter that he has not even inferred that these songs have any historical significance." She expresses awareness that the conflict has not been resolved: "It's clear to me that the school intends to join in on the traditional Christian celebration of the birth of Christ and that history has nothing to do with it." She considers alternative conflict management options:

So I guess it's now up to me to decide what steps to take next. I feel that taking on a passive attitude is not an option- I have to do something. Otherwise my daughter will get the impression that our religious beliefs are not of any significance in light of what the 'rest of the world' believes to be true. But obviously the method of discussion did not work for me in trying to resolve this conflict- at least not with these two individuals.

Juanita considers seeking an attorney [expert power] as an option in managing the conflict: "I know I need legal advice." She does not expect empathy [effectiveness] in this approach [option]: "I'm afraid of winding up talking to a lawyer who feels the same as [Mr. Brown], in which case he/she will not empathize with my strong feelings on the issue."

The perceived lack of empathy from the school officials leads Juanita to feel powerless: "I also feel powerless. It's apparent that the school, at least at this point, is holding all the cards." However, she continues to examine alternative conflict management options in recognizing distribution of power: "In order to balance things out [distribution of power], I'll need a lawyer, an historian and at least one other person who doesn't share my religious beliefs but feels the same way I do about this matter." Juanita identifies types of power ascribed to the parties in the above scenario and how she perceives the parties using that power.

The lawyer, of course, will serve as an expert power in the area of law. The historian will serve the same purpose in the area of history. I'm confident that he/she would show that [Mr. Brown] has confused historical facts with his own religious doctrine. And the other person will show that I am not an overwhelmingly sensitive person whose bordering on paranoia -because obviously this practice is offensive to others as well. Then, of course, we'll need an arbitrator.

Although Juanita is aware of multiple conflict management options, she seems frustrated in her own attempts to manage the conflict with the school officials, ". . . though there may be another way of managing this conflict- I don't see it." She emphasizes awareness of her personal power, ". . . and though I don't question that I have the strength of conviction to see this thing through . . . ." She acknowledges limitations in monetary power: "I wonder how far my wallet will allow me to go with it." Juanita does not see withdrawal or surrender as options in managing the conflict, ". . . it's evident that none of us is willing to withdraw or surrender." Juanita summarizes her attitude toward managing the conflict: "As far myself, I am bound and determined to show, not only that the school is acting in violation of my civil rights and liberties; but that- dem bones ain't gonna' rise no mo!" Juanita does not write about this conflict beyond this entry. Therefore, the researcher does not know how this conflict was managed.

In "My Name is not Susan," [artist not cited], Juanita perceives a content and value conflict between a man and a woman. She identifies the cause of the conflict as, ". . . the woman's lover calls out the name of his ex-lover in his sleep."

My name is not Susan So watch what you say And if you still need her Be on your way.

Juanita describes how the woman in the song feels: "Her feelings are hurt and she's also angry and insecure because she now is in doubt about whether or not he is still in love with the other woman." Juanita interprets the woman's response:

She also speaks of his lack of respect for her and that she wonders who he thinks about when they're making love, which seems to indicate that she feels threatened or violated by the presence of another person in their bed.

In this analysis, Juanita perceives the woman's attitude as "fiery anger." She recognizes that the woman "leaves room for discussion," but parenthetically asks, "(passive aggressive?)" The woman "demands that he choose which one of them he wants to be with." Juanita perceives that "there is no indication of what the outcome of this conflict will be." In her perception, "there is no conflict within herself [the woman in the song]," because "she is not prepared to occupy the same space in his mind and heart with another, or compromise her values." Thus, Juanita perceives that the conflict will end here, unless: "There is another slip of the tongue after it has apparently been resolved."

Juanita examines another conflict involving a lover's quarrel in Venessa Williams' "Running Back." The issue in this conflict "involves the lifestyle or values of this woman's lover." Juanita hears the woman say, "that she'll no longer tolerate his running around, lying, and coming and going as he pleases." The woman warns if he leaves this time it will be over between them:

I won't come running back to you I'll just find someone else to give it to (her love)

Juanita perceives the woman to be using "coercive power in order to effect a change in his behavior." Juanita demonstrates awareness of power distribution in the song, and appears to perceive the woman as trying to equalize power distribution: "By implication, he has obviously been assigned the dominant role in this relationship, and she is now attempting to balance the scales." This is evident to Juanita in the lyrics:

You just can't kiss me when you wanna Ditch me when you wanna Go anywhere you wanna Hang around when you wanna.

Juanita perceives the woman has: "Obviously . . . in the past consented to this form of behavior by being passive about it, and now in changing her attitude she hopes to change him as well." Juanita elaborates beyond the lack of perceived resolution in the song to predict possible outcomes to the conflict.

There is no indication of how this conflict will end. However, because she has apparently come to an awareness of her own values, and is not willing to compromise them anymore, the outcome will have to be a positive one -at least for her because if he cleans up his act she'll have achieved her goal, but if he doesn't she's prepared to do what she has to adjust to the situation.

Juanita does not identify the listening context of this song, nor does she personally relate it to an event in her life. However, she does seem to focus on not compromising one's values. She does become more involved in the next entry.

In "You're the Story of My Life" by Desmond Child, Juanita perceives the conflict to be about "life's obstacles to peace of mind." This song is about the speaker's contemplation of his life and his recognition of the motivating force his significant other has provided in his overcoming obstacles in his life:

You were there to help me through the night You were there to make it right.

To Juanita these words imply that the significant other was "instrumental in helping him adapt to and overcome hardships." The man in the song "looks toward the future in anticipation of the conflicts that undoubtedly await him between himself and his environment:

When I think about tomorrow There'll be joy and there'll be sorrow But I know that I will follow you Cause I'm lost without your love

Juanita perceives the man to be saying that although he doesn't know: "What circumstance will bring or how he will handle them, only that he'll seek the source of strength he's always found in her." Juanita finds this song "especially meaningful for me, because it describes the way I believe my relationship is with God." She becomes more involved in this analysis, and expresses concern about co-dependency.

I don't know that I can have that kind of faith in another person, however. In fact by some people's definition this can be termed a co-dependency, because his ability to cope with life is, in a sense, dependent on her presence in his life.

Juanita's involvement with the content of this song seems to deepen with expressions of concern about social conditions:

These days when addictions and other compulsive behaviors and their causes are in focus a conflict can be easily detected in what we're told is conducive to emotional stability by some authorities and the social standards that are reflected in our music.

In "Be Real" by Jesus Jones, Juanita begins to incorporate more text book language. She identifies the conflict as: "Conflict in verbal communication and non-verbal cues." She perceives the speaker saying to the person at the other side of this interaction, that:

He/she says things that don't coincide with what he perceives is his/her intended message: `Well you say you've had a vision, And it really sounds like fun, If I knew what it was, I'm sure I'd like to have one.

Juanita perceives the man to be saying that: "He can't tell if the person he's talking to is experiencing any emotion or if what this person is feeling is real." Juanita interprets a context in which: "These lyrics make sense if one assumes that the person he's addressing is on some sort of drug and is offering him some of the same." She elaborates:

For instance if the drug was LSD or another hallucinogenic the person could be experiencing a sense of euphoria which to the objective observer would evidence itself by inappropriate behavior or responses. The observer would then question whether or not they were having a delusion, and would not think it a desirable state of mind to be in.

Juanita summarizes her interpretation of her perceptions of conflict in this song.

In any case the speaker is addressing the conflicting messages he is receiving from this person and asking him/her for some feedback, specifically if he/she is giving a true account of his/her emotions- or how he/she really feels.

Juanita perceives a "conflict in emotions (negative and positive feelings about romantic love) in "The Power of Love" by Luther Vandiose.

When I say goodbye Its never for long 'Cause I know our love still lives on It'll be again exactly like it was 'Cause I believe in the power of love.

In this song, Juanita perceives the speaker to be telling his lover not to deny or hide the feeling of love and "that in the face of adversity (a fight between them for example), the positive side of love would always win out." She restates her perceived message:

In other words, she should not doubt or be insecure in their relationship because it will overcome any obstacle as long as she allows herself to be led by her heart when her mind comes into conflict with it -That conflicts might arise between them but she shouldn't analyze or try to reconcile things in her mind because this can only lead to an inner conflict and bad feelings. However, if she is led only by her positive emotions (love), there will never be room for conflict within herself and any conflict between the two of them would soon be forgotten.

Juanita interprets the singer to be "suggesting avoidance because he never mentions any type of discussion or other method of reconciling their differences." She demonstrates awareness of multiple conflict options in this interpretation, and projects outcomes to this type of management.

So that if she agrees with this suggestion they're sure to have worse problems because whatever caused this problem to arise will certainly repeat itself as long as they choose to ignore it rather than manage it.

Juanita appears to become more personally involved with perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences as she continues to write in her journal. Her analysis of Wes King's "Inside of Me" in relationship to her perceptions of her changing attitude is fully presented here and is intended to show how her involvement with the research project helped her to work through an inner conflict of her own.

I heard this song on a popular radio station. The announcer said it was, `number 15 on the countdown magazine.' I was very surprised to hear that a Christian song was so near to the top of the charts; and the contrast between this and the sad state of affairs the world seems to be in suddenly hit me. Actually it seemed so out of place because of the alarming rate of drug abuse and crime among the youth of today. Since this station seems to appeal to the younger generation, (my daughter listens to it), I expected to hear music with lyrics about romance, drugs and sex. Instead I heard a song about a young man and his love and relationship with God.

The song especially caught my attention because it is rock and roll music that is being played along with the words. When I grew up this would have been considered highly disrespectful if not blasphemous, and would've been a source of conflict between the younger generation and their `old stick in the mud' parents, but I guess the definition of a `good' Christian is now changing.

Listening to this song caused conflicting emotions within me because of the way I was taught to respond to music designed to worship God. For a moment I felt guilty about moving my head to the beat of the music. But only for a moment -and then I guess an inner conflict between my 'inherited' value system and my own ideals resolved itself somehow and I started dancing.

Juanita appears to have resolved a conflict between generational values in this analysis, and in so doing, resolved "an inner conflict".

In responding to Tracy Chapman's "Bridges" Juanita expands her perceptions of conflict about broken relationships. In this song, Juanita perceives Chapman to be "talking about unresolved conflicts that end in resentments and broken relationships." Juanita perceives Chapman to be "suggesting that 'resolving' conflicts in this way only leads to loneliness," because "every significant other would eventually be absent in one's life." Juanita perceives the singer to be advocating the resolution of conflict "through management or avoidance of the initial conflict that leads to a broken relationship through understanding and mutual respect." Although, "this song is short on lyrics," it says a lot to Juanita:

The bridges that you burn Come back one day to haunt One day you'll find you're walkin' alone.

Certainly if people had both respect and empathy for one another's sentiments as well as the honesty, open mindedness and willingness to manage their conflicts instead of letting them fester the world would be a better place. Especially if this attitude was adapted not only by the individual but by governments and religious organizations as well.

Juanita perceives the speaker to be saying that "unresolved conflicts tend to resurface and are the source of further unhappiness." She reinterprets the message she perceives Chapman to be singing: "Although she may be addressing a lover, because of the nature of Ms. Chapman's music, I tend to feel that she is speaking to the peoples of the world, and of different races and classes."

In summary, Juanita demonstrated awareness of multiple conflict management options. She applied the discussion method in an everyday communicative situation, e.g., with the school officials, and suggested alternative ways of managing the conflict. She demonstrated awareness of power distribution, and expressed awareness of her own feelings of low power in the conflict with the school. She elaborated upon various types of conflict. She projected outcomes of different conflict management options. She seemed to focus on outcomes of avoidance. Through her involvement in this research project, she seems to have resolved an "inner conflict," and gained insight into intergenerational conflict about values as expressed in song/music preferences, e.g., Wes King's "Inside of Me." She expanded awareness of conflict from the intrapersonal level to include "peoples of the world."

 

Lewis.

Lewis Conrad's journal entries are brief and concise. In the song "To be with You" by the band, Mr. Big, he perceives an ego conflict "in the way that one of the characters in the song is afraid to fall in love again." The girl's "ex" was "a jerk to her." Lewis perceives persuasion as the conflict management option because "the singer is telling her to trust him . . . he doesn't want to see her get hurt or be hurt anymore. . . he tells her to give him a try because he can make her happier than the other guy." In "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by the Beatles, Lewis perceives a conflict "having to do with values." The singer sings "about a place where there is no conflict whatsoever." However, Lewis interprets this message as: "But inside there is a conflict." Lewis perceives withdrawal as the conflict management option: "He uses drugs to withdraw from the conflict." He points out the ineffectiveness of the use of withdrawal and avoidance as a conflict management options in this conflict: "When he comes back to reality, he finds that the problems are still there." Lewis does not specify how the two songs relate to him. He becomes more involved in "Dr. Feelgood" by Motley Crue, in which he perceives a value conflict:

Vince Neil tells a story about a drug dealer in a neighborhood. This 'Dr. Feelgood' tries to persuade kids into taking whatever drugs he's selling. While, on the other hand, Vince Neil tries to show that Dr. Feelgood is a bad guy and you should not get involved with him. And that you should not mess around with drugs because they will mess up your life.

Lewis discusses how he feels about this song: "1) It's a great jam; and 2) it really points out the dangers of substance abuse. Motley Crue points these dangers out in a way that kids can understand it today. Instead of that stupid commercial that says, `this is your brain on drugs'." Lewis defines a value conflict and withdrawal in "Learning to Fly" by Pink Floyd:

The singer sings about dreaming of learning to fly. This is how he escapes his problem, which is not really mentioned in the song, but if this problem has to do with drugs, then the man is going through a value conflict. A value conflict represents a difference in views of life in general and the way he manages his conflict is through the withdrawal process. The withdrawal process entails physically or psychologically removing oneself from the situation. He does this by dreaming about flying away from everything.

Lewis demonstrates awareness of conflict management options in "No More Tears" by Ozzy Osbourne. In this song, "Ozzy tells the listener about his wanting to leave or break off this relationship with this one girl." Lewis perceives that Ozzy is managing this example of content conflict through a combination of persuasion and discussion: "By persuasion he is trying to persuade her to forget about him . . . by discussion he is listing or telling her all that's good and bad about their relationship." Lewis perceives a content conflict in "American Woman" by the Guess Who, in which the singer needs freedom from a girl: "This is an example of content conflict because . . . he wants to get on with his life and he is bringing her down." The singer manages this conflict by "trying to persuade this girl to make her see he is no good for her." Lewis does not relate the songs to his personal life, nor does he identify the listening context. He doesn't discuss power distribution. He does demonstrate awareness of multiple conflict management options.

 

Ingrid

. Ingrid Gottlieb perceives conflict between Christians and the world in Petra's "Mine Field." Petra is "one of my favorite groups . . . I find they have a lot of songs that really hit home." In this song, Ingrid perceives "the devil is the god of this world," and the song "describes our life as a walk through a mine field." She perceives the way of managing conflict as: "If we keep the Lord as our guide, we will be safe -but otherwise . . . ." Ingrid does not identify a specific type of conflict; however, she perceives "the conflict between Christians and the world is a long running one." She demonstrates awareness of power in conflict. "The world seems to have more power and more sources of it, because Christians don't grasp their power." Ingrid perceives Christians managing this long running conflict by, ". . . they merely attempt to avoid the situation." Ingrid relates her perception of conflict in this song to her personal life: "I see this conflict in my own life as I try to walk the line between a godly life and a worldly existence." Ingrid continues her personal involvement in a similar conflict which she perceives in White Heart's "King George."

This song discusses the conflicts of Christians with today's society. The song describes how the pilgrims came to America to get religious freedom, and now we can't even pray in school, yet humanist theories (humanism is an established religion) such as evolution can and are presented. The chorus says:

King George, we thought we got away King George, are you laughing in your grave King George, it hasn't really changed King George, is your shadow here to stay.

Ingrid demonstrates awareness of power distribution and low power status in her perception that: "Christians have not used the power they have, it has been wasted." She seems to perceive high power status and power sources in: "Government and society have used physical strength and position to bring us to where we are today." Ingrid relates this conflict to her personal life: "This conflict affects me as a student." She expresses frustration in having "to go to my classes and have to hear humanist theories without any opposing views." Ingrid seems to perceive herself as having low power in this conflict: "I don't in many cases have sufficient facts to confront these theories." In Petra's "First Love" a song that "talks about our loving Savior who is our first love," Ingrid perceives inner conflict in decision making between right and wrong: "It is common for us to have inner conflict, it is something we all have to struggle with." Ingrid demonstrates awareness of power types and sources:

God has legitimate power, and in some ways, reward power (eternal life is definitely first prize!). Our decision is affected by who is influencing us, and what our situation is, how we have done things in the past. We have to use our powers of knowledge, skill, and position.

In the song "Brother against Brother" by DeGarmo & Key, Ingrid perceives that: "This song is looking directly in the face of conflict." Ingrid perceives this song to be "making the point that it's not right to judge a brother, that we need to `lose our prejudice'." She perceives the song to be "pleading, us to listen to others first, not to judge them unfairly." Ingrid personally relates this song to herself: "I tend to be a judgmental person a fair amount of the time, and this song is a reminder to take a second look . . . ." She demonstrates awareness of multiple conflict management options, ". . . to try to be not so aggressive, either indirectly or directly, but to attempt to be more prosocial." Ingrid appeared to suggest a spiritual approach to conflict management. She indicated a desire to mediate a personal conflict between her judgmental attitude and her spiritual quest.

What the special informants had to say:

 

Leigh.

Leigh Frank, a nineteen year old disc jockey, presented her first journal entry dated November 23, 1991, with an apology that "this will be my only entry." She remained with the study throughout its completion. When I asked her why she wanted to join the study, she said: "Because its as though music is a soundtrack of my life." Her journal chronicles forty years of growth and change in the popular music industry, and her analyses and interpretations of song/music as reflective and expressive of culture and cultural patterns and changes are closely aligned with Capra's (1982). Personal associations with these cultural transitions are triggered by song/music preferences. In writing her way through a painful relational passage in which she uses the language of music as her mediator in conflict, and as her preferred medium of expression, Leigh echoes Berthoff (1981, pp. 38-39) in bringing meaning out of chaos. In her analysis of "Hold on My Heart" from the album We Can't Dance by Genesis, Leigh becomes conscious of her language:

This is a wonderfully painful song. It is just about telling one's heart to hold on because the pain will subside someday. I have used the word pain or a form thereof quite a few times in this entry, makes me wonder.

Leigh became a disc jockey in high school and was especially attuned to music and the importance of special selections to her audience. Among her contributions to the study, she was helpful to the researcher in clarifying audience attraction to music and artists. For example, she explained Eric Clapton's continued audience appeal in terms of his unchanging musical style and said of Clapton in relation to his status as a performer, "Clapton is God." She explained his continued audience loyalty as reciprocal in that he understands his fans' musical tastes and is loyal to them. Similarly, Leigh explained that for some fans, the family network among performers is the attraction, i.e., Wilson Phillips is the daughter of Brian, a member of the Beach Boys' band. Thus, Leigh was able to provide insight into the song/music culture, as well as demonstrating personal and professional sensitivity to song and music as a medium of personal and cultural expression. Perhaps most importantly, Leigh recognized and valued the potential influence that music can have in the lives of some people.

 

Thomas

. Thomas Sia, a Native American student, who joined the study as a special informant who provided insight into the meaning of music to a Native American. He associates "Winds of Change" a soft rock piece by the German band, Scorpions, with memories of Germany, as an exchange student and the fall of the Berlin wall:

". . . a unification of song of the two Germans. I remember being in Berlin staring at the wall -a boundary separating one nationality in two separate countries. The feelings of freedom hurt, and the idea of solitude scared me. Sadness swept in my life as I examined my own life and how privileged I am to be an American- a Native American. I could understand the two different worlds, for I live it as well. Being an Indian -holding back the tradition, religion, and morals of (my people). Yet, trying to compete and live among an ever changing society with other races. Being around a white dominate society and trying to compete with them made me think of visiting the Berlin wall. Which side of the wall should I jump to? Or is it too late? The wall no longer exists."

Thomas was especially sensitive to the emotional expressions of music and the associative influence of music. He wrote: "Once I find a favorite song that I can relate to in some way or another, either by the lyrics or remembrance of a past event, I never forget it." Thomas discussed with the researcher the imagery evoked by some types of music. For example, "Don't Cry" by Guns & Roses, "makes me think about the next generation . . . how frightening it is to realize that things aren't going to be easy." He refers to a younger sibling and says: "It kills me to think that her children might see the end of the world." He expresses sorrow with this imagery: "Things change fast . . . and I'm scared to go forward . . . I'll always weep for the future." Thus, Thomas' acute sensitivity to imagery, emotional expressiveness, and his broad knowledge of musical genre was especially helpful to the researcher.

 

Tony.

Tony Califano was a music/math major with special expertise in music. He joined the study as a special informant because he was concerned about the influence of some types of music on students. For example, he discussed his concern about the abusive influence of Morrison of The Doors on young women fans. Tony wanted to contribute some insight into a study that might increase student's awareness of what he perceived to be unhealthy aspects of the influence of some types of music. As a music major, he was especially knowledgeable about musical arrangements as well as lyrics.

The symbolic interaction perspective summarized by Schwartz & Jacobs (1979) posits that in order to understand social phenomena, researchers must discover the actor's "definition of the situation" (p. 7). This position states that it is the actor's perception of reality that determines his/her interpretation of the social interactions in which he/she participates, and pivots on how the actor uses symbols in general and language in particular to interpret the meanings conferred upon social events from the social context in which the events occur. The symbolic interaction orientation is reflected by Special Informant, Tony Califano, who interprets Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit":

" . . . I was six years old when this song was being played on Top 40 a.m. radio. The unique rhythm and mood set of the song completely captivated me. It must have been Expert power, because I remember thinking that they were very good, but were not really singing about Alice in Wonderland. `One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small, and the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all' is a line that I will always remember. In Alice in Wonderland, Alice takes pills in order to shrink to be able to fit through something. I also remember taking pills that mother said would make me feel better. I don't remember them doing anything at all. This song made me wonder at a very early age what other pills would do, and what exactly had I been missing. I saw Jefferson Airplane in New York City last year. When the bass line started to "White Rabbit," the entire arena was filled with pot smoke. The psychedelic lightshow made the pot smoke look pink! Even if you didn't bring your own marijuana, all you had to do was breathe deeply. It was quite a show!"

Tony contributed to the study through his professional knowledge as a musician and as a music teacher. Tony provided notes to the researcher with examples of musical symbolism in song/music. For example, he discusses "Tom Sawyer" by Rush, "a top notch classic rock group . . . seems to be surviving the test of time very well." According to Tony, the lyrics in "Tom Sawyer" make a social statement about homosexuality:

A modern day warrior, mean mean stride Today's Tom Sawyer, mean mean bride

He speaks to the musical arrangement: Usually you have to do more than one sentence before doing a solo, but this break is very effective in letting the setting sink in. The guitar and Bass double up to play a powerful yet rebellious line.

In "The Fly" by U2, a band from Northern Ireland, Tony explains how the guitar solo and rhythm seem to reflect the doomly atmosphere consistent with his perception of: "This song has a very dark mood in it." He points out that "there are no keyboards, which make the song sound dark and empty." Tony is sensitive to further symbolism in the song: "He is making the phone call at night." Thus, as a special informant, Tony provided professional analysis of social symbolism in song/music as well as his personal perceptions of conflict and power in song/music.


Results and Discussion.

The researcher's experience and the multiple realities of participants in this study are consistent with Lincoln & Guba's view (1985) that no a priori theory "could anticipate the many realities that the inquirer will inevitably encounter in the field, nor encompass the many factors that make a difference at the micro (local level)" (p. 205). For example, 176 separate song/music preferences (SMPs) were cited by all participants; two citations overlapped.

Conflict was perceived and expressed in five areas within a cultural context: Intrapersonal; interpersonal; social groups; organizations; and was reflected against a global environment. A Venn diagram illustrates the interrelationship of contexts in which conflict was identified. Figure 1, The global environment of conflict shows the interrelationship.

Figure 1. The global environment of conflict

Phase I data suggests that students can learn conflict management options through their perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences--and that students' awareness of their own knowledge can be increased. Students did connect theoretical material about conflict management learned in the classroom with these perceptions. Relevant issues that cause conflict in everyday communicative situations were identified.

Questions raised in Phase I are consistent with Rosenblatt (1938) who asks what can we learn about what happens in the mind of the reader of literature as the writer attempts to create in the reader's consciousness certain concepts, experiences, images, things, people, actions, and scenes. What are the special meanings and submerged associations that images and words of song/music have for individuals that determine what will be communicated by students as perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences? How can these personality traits, memories of past events, present needs, preoccupations, momentary moods, and physical conditions that create unique experiences for students be better understood and shared in informing theory and praxis in conflict management education? These questions are further explored in Chapter IV.

 

Writing the Theory

Elden (1981, p. 261, cited in Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 205) states that participatory research suggests that grounded theory is local theory, and that it facilitates the gathering together and systematizing of isolated, individualized understanding. Lincoln & Guba (1985) interpret this formulation as "an aggregate of local understandings that without the intervention of the researcher, would remain isolated" (p. 205). In bringing together and reconstructing respondents' multiple perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences, the emergence of a pattern model for informing theory and praxis in conflict management education was suggested. Reason, (1981 cited in Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 205) draws from Paul Diesings's (1972) book Patterns of Discovery in the Social Sciences to describe how models of explanation emerge; by using data drawn from the field to explain the relations between parts so that meaning is given to each part in the system, thus giving an empirical account of the whole system. In the present study, data were drawn from the field that explain the relations between parts of conflict, thus giving meaning to each part. Therefore, in the present study, conflict is described as a highly abstract system. The interrelationship of conflict elements and their relevance to participants explains the system to the participants, because it describes the interrelationship of the parts, and explains the meaning of the parts. A helpful analogy in understanding the interrelationship of conflict dynamics may be Horton's 1971 study, The Interplay of Forces in the Development of a Small School System (cited in Wax, Diamond, & Gearing 1971, pp.180 194) in which Horton adopts a transactional model to describe the school as a system by explaining the dynamics of the school system in terms of transactions and compromise among and within the powers and influences of the system. Dewey & Bentley (1949) defines transaction as an on going process where parts and elements are aspects or phases of a total situation. Thus, the analogy that is drawn is between the school as a system as described above and conflict dynamics as a system. It is through analysis of the interplay of forces in conflict dynamics, that a pattern model of conflict emerges, i.e., is developed. Bateson (1979, cited in Capra, 1982, p. 81) argued that all definitions should be based on relationships -not on a thing itself, but how it stands in relation to other things. Results of Phase I are consistent with the view that conflict cannot be understood as consisting of separate, isolated entities, but must be defined through their interrelations. As previously stated in the present study, conflict is defined as a highly abstract system. Thus, any theory of conflict must account for the interplay of forces within that system, i.e., the interrelation of conflict dynamics. As shown in Figure 2, by interrelation of conflict dynamics, the researcher means how prior knowledge influences perceptions of power sources which in turn influence the management option selected which may be based on the distribution of power. In like manner prior knowledge of conflict types influence perception of the relevancy of the issues to participants in the conflict. The centrality of the issue and perception of its relevancy may influence the option selected from management options available. The application of the option may depend upon the situation and the cultural context in which the conflict is expressed.

Figure 2. A pattern model of conflict dynamics

By using reflexive journals through which to analyze conflict dynamics in song/music preferences, respondents experienced a holistic approach to conflict dynamics. The substantive theory that journal writing in conjunction with students' perceptions of song/music preferences, creates a pattern model that explains the interrelationships of conflict dynamics to students is further explored in Chapters IV and V.

 

Limitations.

The primary limitations in this study was the lack of classroom contact necessary to provide greater opportunity for discussion of theoretical material in connection with the respondents' perceptions of conflict and power and conflict issues documented in their journals. Extended classroom time would be necessary to optimize the procedures used in this study, and the enthusiasm the study generated. Prolonged engagement in the field of the researcher would allow familiarity with the context; more effective scheduling for member checks; more time for recording of field notes; and better acquaintance with the informants.

The initial trust and rapport established between researcher and informants was due to informants' enthusiasm for the topic of the assignment, i.e., song/music, appreciation for the researcher's acknowledgement of the significance of song/music to the informants, and informants' appreciation for the freedom of expression in journal keeping and for knowing that their opinions and ideas were accepted and valued. The overall attitude that characterized this study was a sense of working together in an individual way, through song/music in order to solve common problems and contribute to conflict management education.

Phase II of the research project, attempts to answer some of the questions raised in Phase I. The presentational style used in Phase I continues in the presentation of Phase II. Through this narrative style, the researcher attempts to capture the personalities and core experiences and concerns of the respondents. Chapter V presents further discussion and suggests implications for continued research and instruction.


4.Phase II: Spring, 1992

Phase II of the study extended inquiry into students' perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences for the purpose of informing theory and praxis in conflict management education. The study began February 19, 1992 and lasted through the first week of April, although informal discussion with the informants continued through the rest of the semester. This phase of the study was conducted at the same small liberal arts college in the southwest as was Phase I.

Phase I clarified that:

  1. students do perceive conflict and power in song/music preferences;
  2. students do associate personal events with these perceptions; and,
  3. song/music preferences can be used to assist students in connecting theoretical material learned in class about conflict management with its application in everyday communicative situations.

In expanding the pattern model of conflict dynamics that was suggested in Phase I, Phase II retained question three from Phase I as a continuing "How" question and added three additional questions:

  1. How (if at all) can college students' perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences inform students and teachers about theory and praxis in conflict management education?
  2. What are the reference frames, i.e., characteristics, personality traits, submerged associations, and prior knowledge about conflict and conflict management options that determined what respondents communicated in their making of connections between theoretical material about conflict management education and their perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences?
  3. Can the special meanings interpreted in the images, music, and words respondents perceived in song/music be made explicit?
  4. Can students' and teachers' attitudes toward conflict management in the educational context, be made explicit through writing about connections between theoretical material about conflict learned in the classroom and their perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences?

The researcher attempts to use the portraiture approach in the manner of Lightfoot (1983) in presenting this phase of the study. Events from which the portraits are drawn are actual. Data were collected during a formal research period of six weeks. Informal discussion with the informants continued throughout the semester.

Data presented in this study are intended to illuminate respondents' cultural and experiential backgrounds, to capture the character, personality traits, submerged associations and special meanings attached to images, words, and music, that determined what they communicated in response to perceptions of conflict and power in song/music. Since the purpose of the study is to inform theory and praxis in conflict management education, the data are also intended to show how, as teachers, respondents' attitudes toward conflict management in the educational context can be made explicit through writing about their perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences. These data are also intended to show respondents' prior knowledge about conflict and conflict management options. Fictitious names protect respondents' confidentiality.

 

Method.

Context and Respondents

The study was conducted on a collaborative basis in a combined graduate/ undergraduate evening course in classroom management in education. Seven students from this class chose to participate in the study as one of two assignment options. Five respondents were teachers, one respondent was in teacher preparation and was a substitute teacher, and one respondent was in teacher preparation. The special informants from Phase I were retained as respondents in this study and were consulted about song/music content.

Procedure

Participating in the study was an alternate requirement available to students in this course. Students in this course could choose to report on two case studies, or they could choose to report on one case study and participate in this research study. The length of the study was set at six weeks in order to provide a fair balance in work load with the other course options available to the students. This time period was agreed upon through consensus with respondents from the class. While the special informants provided input into this decision, primary consensus was with the respondents in the class.

The students were apprised of this study as an alternate option by the regular classroom professor who collaborated with the researcher by permitting the researcher to conduct the study in his class. The researcher taught a two and one half hour introductory lesson on conflict management education to the entire class. The lesson plan used in this lecture is shown as Appendix B. The research questions, purpose and design of the study were explained to students.

Materials/Text/Instrumentation. Verderber's & Verderber's (1989) text was used in this phase of the study. The instrument (Appendix A) was used again to provide visualization of conflict dynamics for students. Overhead transparencies of the research questions, instrumentation, and key literature findings that support the rationale for the study were used in the lesson and in the explanation of the study. The chalkboard was also used extensively in presenting the lesson. Participants in the study were asked to meet with the researcher individually by special arrangements, and/or in the classroom, for a minimum of thirty minutes on Wednesdays from 4:30 until 7:00 p.m. prior to the 7:00 p.m. regular class meeting time. This arrangement accommodated respondents' schedules. The purpose of these meetings was for member checks, individualized instruction, and clarification of conflict management material. Participants were told that interviews would be audiotaped, and all agreed to the audiotaping of interviews.

 

Data Collection.

Participants were asked to:

  1. keep a journal of their involvement with song/music preferences;
  2. describe the contexts in which their listening involvement occurred;
  3. connect the conflict dynamics they perceived in their song/music preferences (if any) with perceived personal associations (if any) with these dynamics;
  4. agree or disagree with how the conflict they perceived in the song/music was managed;
  5. suggest alternative ways of managing the conflict, i.e., how they would manage the conflict if they disagreed with the perceived conflict management option;
  6. explain why they liked a song/music preferences, i.e., what about the song/music attracts or repels them;
  7. meet with the researcher for audiotaped interviews to member check and clarify instructions about conflict management dynamics.

How frequently and how much they recorded in their journals depended upon their listening habits. However, they were required to select at least one song/music per week for analysis in order to complete the course requirement. Song/music preferences were not dictated to students.

Trustworthiness. Trustworthiness was partially developed through triangulation of data from multiple sources. These sources included respondents' journals, textual material, audiotapes of song/music preferences, interview audiotapes, observation of participants by the investigator, field notes, and unrecorded observations. Primary sources of data were the journals, textual material, and audiotapes from member check interviews between researcher and respondent. Other steps in establishing trustworthiness included prolonged engagement in the field, defined by Lincoln & Guba (1985) as "the investment of sufficient time to achieve certain purposes: Learning the culture, testing for misinformation introduced by distortions either of the self or of the respondents, and building trust" (p. 301). In this study, six weeks was considered prolonged engagement partly because the researcher was more familiar with the culture and the student population, but primarily because of the intensity of the respondents' interest in the study and the trust and rapport that developed between the researcher and respondents. Primary peer debriefing with on-campus colleagues, and with the chair of the doctoral committee as secondary peer debriefer due to the logistics, were also methods of providing trustworthiness.

Verification. A reviewer was retained to validate the authenticity of reproduction of the journals and the accuracy of the interview transcripts. Although the goal of the study was reconstruction of respondents' perceptions of conflict and power in song and music, not intercoder reliability, the reviewer and researcher compared their perceptions of conflict and power with those of respondents'. The reviewer and researcher agreed with the respondents' interpretations of conflict and power in song and music with one exception -Respondent Carol Marek's perception of "I'm Willin'" by Seatrain. The reader is referred to Marek's portrait for a fuller explanation of this exception. Confidentiality of the journals and interview transcripts was assured the researcher by the reviewer. The reviewer signed a statement to this effect.

Data Analysis. Etic (theoretical, textual) categories used in Phase I shown in Chapter II, were used in the lesson plan of this study. These categories are integrated in the reconstruction of respondents' journals and interviews and are shown in the portraits that follow. The abstracted (emic) categories that emerged in Phase I, Chapter III, and expressed as concerns, also emerged in this study and are integrated in the reconstruction of respondents' journals and interviews and are shown in the portraits that follow. Analysis of the journals and song/music preferences was ongoing and the researcher sought not only to gather and analyze data, but to involve respondents in the analysis of data as a part of the teaching/learning process about conflict management options. Teaching, research and analysis, became an inseparable process. There were times when the researcher sought specific answers to specific questions. There were periods of silence when respondent and researcher reflected on profound discoveries, insights and meanings of these discoveries. There were many times when it became apparent to the researcher that one of the primary needs being met through this study was having someone listen to another's thoughts. There were protracted analyses when the respondent talks through what a particular song/music means to them. As the reviewer said at one point, as she listened to the tapes, "All of this from one song, huh?" It became evident to the researcher that beyond the importance of song/music preferences to the individual, it is not the song/music per se that is important; it is the meanings and associations within the individual that are brought to the song/music that are important--as the literary work that is created in the transaction between the individual and the song/music (Rosenblatt, 1978) was made explicit. This perspective is supported by the lack of overlap in selected song/music preferences discovered in Phase I.

Sampling. The researcher initially intended to use intensity sampling in this study in a manner consistent with Patton (1990). Intensity sampling consists of selecting information rich cases that are sufficient to "elucidate the phenomenon of interest" (p. 171). However, because each of the seven participants in this study chose to participate in this study for personal and specific reasons, each of the seven participants is represented in the report of the study. Among the reasons given for choosing the option of participating in this study were:

  1. recognition of the need for conflict management education;
  2. commitment to the improvement of conflict management education;
  3. an opportunity to learn how to manage family conflict about song/music preferences in the home; and,
  4. to learn a creative way of teaching about conflict management through song/music preferences.

Therefore, the researcher felt that she must honor the respondents and their commitment to the study. The intensity with which the respondents participated in the study varied and is reflected in the respondents' portraits that follow.

Portraits

Both the respondents' and the researcher's enthusiasm for the research approach to conflict management education that characterized Phase I continued in this phase of the study. This enthusiasm is reflected through laughter, tears, commitment to education, and love and caring for the purpose of the study and its approach, and for the students the study is ultimately designed to benefit. Elaboration upon these descriptors is found in the respondents' portraits. The interviews varied from structured to unstructured and exceeded the thirty minute time allotment by fifteen to thirty minutes. In some cases, interviews were rescheduled to better accommodate the respondent's schedule.

While each participant integrated concepts learned about conflict dynamics, and expressed categorical concerns noted earlier in this study, the researcher perceived differences in focus that the respondents brought to the study. Through portraiture, the researcher attempts to show this focal difference in the reconstruction of respondents' perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences.

Cathy.

Cathy Rodriquez draws from "Hazard" by Richard Marx, to illustrate prejudice, complexity of conflict, and how prejudice and conflict influences and impacts life in school for students. She describes what it was like for her as an Hispanic student growing up in a small town where value conflicts were reflected through racial prejudice. In her early life, she didn't understand the cruelty of classmates. As she grew older, and the prejudice and conflicts became more complex, Cathy drew upon the power source of a strong personal identity learned through consistent parental support to confront these conflicts.

As long as they just whispered about me, I'd ignore them and avoid the conflict, but if they got in my face about it, I'd stand there and get back in their face, and confront them . . . my parents taught me to believe in myself and if I fell off the horse, just get back on.

When asked to elaborate upon the term "complex," Cathy shrugged, averted eye contact, and after a long pause a period of silence which the researcher perceived to be reflective, said, "Oh, I dunno . . . just more complex." The researcher did not pursue the question.

Cathy developed strong self-esteem because she dealt with the conflicts. She thinks that prosocial management is the most appropriate way of handling conflict. She thinks that we should teach our children to appreciate different cultures. She recognizes that we must approach the children, because adult attitudes are too hard to change: "I just think that if you teach your kids to be prejudiced, then we're going to have generations and generations of prejudice and its not ever going to go away." She believes that the power sources of knowledge, skill and credibility, and control over one's own mind create an even stronger power source of reputation, expert power, that helps one cope with conflicts. Cathy generalized from her own experiences to the single mother and her young son in the song.

These two people, they were white, they weren't Black or Hispanic, so why should they have a problem . . . so they shouldn't have prejudice or anything towards them . . . but she was single, that's why.

Cathy related to the prejudice in this song. She sighed as she identified with the little boy growing up in Hazard: "I don't think he had a very happy childhood, and I understand that because I've received prejudice toward me because I'm Spanish."

Cathy knew when she was in the sixth grade, that she wanted to teach special education.

It's a challenge . . . it's easy to teach `normal kids, whatever normal is', they have everything going for them . . . but the special education children, they're more talked about, laughed at, withdrawing from the school, so I don't know . . . I think they are more of a challenge to me.

Cathy cited education as a primary power source in managing conflict in the song "Brenda's Having a Baby," a song about a twelve year old inner city Black girl who to Cathy, symbolizes all twelve year old girls and the plight of poverty and teenage pregnancy and reflects a values conflict. When Cathy saw the video of this song, she said, "Oh, my God! I can't believe this is happening out there!" The physical aggression inflicted upon Brenda through molestation by a cousin, Cathy explained is due to the lack of intelligence. She recognized the influence of environment in shaping behavior. She wasn't sure what the role of the school is in reaching these girls: "The school can't do too much because we are so busy with the ones who are in school--if they don't go to school, how can we teach them?" But she was certain that education is the key power source in resolving value and socioeconomic conflicts. For Cathy, the power sources of parental position, i.e., parental support and involvement, education, and knowledge of what's going on with kids is crucial to students' success in school and to their learning successful conflict management.

In summary, Cathy was eager to participate in the study. As a special education teacher, she was concerned about the situations in which students need to know conflict management skills. Her attitude toward song/music preferences and her perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences were influenced by associative events as an Hispanic in a racially prejudiced environment. Her commitment to improving the educational opportunities was a strong motivating force in Cathy's personality.

 

Carol.

Carol Marek's portrait illustrates struggles of conflict along polar continua of good vs. evil; light vs. dark; death vs. life; love vs hate; openness vs. concealment; rich vs. poor; and spirituality vs. spiritual vacuum. These conflicts are interpreted through commitment to fundamentalist Christian values.

Carol analyzes the song "I'm Willin'" by Seatrain. This song depicts a truck driver's conflict of choice of goals and means of achieving the goals. The singer is in conflict with himself. To Carol, the upbeat tempo of the music indicates that he tries to give the impression that everything is great, while he has inner knowledge of spiritual conflict. Carol suggests that the conflict can be managed through the power of knowledge, that is, the knowledge that the man himself holds about his lifestyle. When the truck driver in the song sings: "Show me a sign," (interpreted by the researcher and the reviewer as a highway sign), Carol sees the man in the song asking God for a sign. Looking for the solution through the power source of position: "He asks God to solve his struggle for him." Carol does not believe the man will receive this sign: "I believe that the man is doomed unless he changes." Carol sees the man as so entrapped in his life style of truckdriving, substance abuse and even transporting drugs (marijuana) that he cannot accept the truth which he already sees. Carol thinks that personal knowledge of the flaws in his life is his sign (power source), and that the yearning for a sign is the call of Christ already there. However, the man remains trapped in his life of struggle and will refuse to give it up "unless he gets a dramatic call from God." Carol thinks the truck driver won't receive this call, because he is so entrapped in his life, that he cannot accept the resolution that is already there. Carol cites avoidance as the truck driver's conflict management option, because he is concealing the conflict from himself and is asking an outside party to solve his conflict. Later in this interview, Carol repeated that the man needs to recognize that he has gotten the sign. She emphasizes the importance of the truck driver recognizing that: "He's gotten the sign . . . and he's not going to get anymore if he stays stuck where he is . . . so he needs to realize that." At this point, she said, "Gee, I just went on and on about this . . . yeah, I thought about that song a lot." She emphasized: "The fact that he's wanting to turn to something else and a desire to have the Lord show him a sign, IS THE SIGN!" She referred again to the upbeat tempo of the music, ". . . and I think there's real hope for him and I think that's why the music sounds so upbeat and cheerful." Carol summarizes this conflict as: "Between the values the truck driver has chosen and a higher ultimate value combined with conflict within himself." She confirms this summary with the researcher as "a conflict between one's `reality' and one's `spiritual reality.'" She empathizes with the truck driver, who in her perception, is attempting to change his lifestyle and is asking help from God: "It is real difficult to change a lifestyle, and he's making a living with this [truckdriving] . . . it is, I think, a real scary change to make . . . ." Carol thinks the truck driver lacks faith in God to make the change and is avoiding making the change. She prefers openness and healthy confrontation of the conflict to avoidance through concealment of truth from self.

In "Dead Flowers" by The Rolling Stones, the conflict is between a man and woman over the choice of goals. The man singer has chosen a poor man's life, while the girl has chosen a life of flashy wealth. Carol interprets the man's appearance as noble, while the woman's is merely flashy. This interpretation pits nobility against a life that is "dead and valueless." Carol asks, "Is one any better than the other?" She explains that while the girl may be obsessed with surface appearances, the man is a drug addict who uses people as he uses drugs, and the girl is only being used for companionship against his loneliness and is not appreciated as a person in her own right. For Carol, the imagery of the dead flowers signifies relational and spiritual death and the valuelessness of the goals chosen by both parties; their conflict is pointless since they disagree over such meaningless goals. Carol would prefer a rediscovery of significant values and ethics that is necessary if their conflict is to be resolved. Carol recognizes that the singer senses his own false values, but fights against this knowledge.

The ultimate conflict, a worst case scenario- man subdued the world and destroyed himself--is depicted in "Broken Morning" by Seatrain. Carol interprets physical strength as the management mode: "The man abused the world unchecked and the earth died." The causes of this conflict are greed and power. Carol would prefer to see this "ecological nightmare" managed through cooperation rather than competition -a return to harmony.

"Citadel" makes an ecological statement and because of its depth is one of Carol's favorite choices. She interprets a conflict of a man torn between two goals, material gain, or spiritual peace. Carol thinks the man has made a poor choice in going after materialism, and that he hungers for his spiritual needs to be fed.

In "Home to You" by Seatrain, Carol identifies verbal aggression between a man and woman who have separated: "I see that as being a song sung after a real strong occurrence of verbal aggression . . . he talks about lies and alibis." Carol perceives that the man wants to mediate the conflict and return home: "Yes, he wants to mediate it, and I think that he needs to communicate instead of concealing and lying." Carol disagrees with the use of avoidance and thinks avoidance is not a successful way of managing this conflict: "But, he's miserable because the avoidance doesn't work because . . . you haven't really resolved anything." Carol recommends that the parties in this conflict use a prosocial "positive approach to work out their problem rather than avoidance or verbal aggression."

In summary, Carol preferred song/music with depth. She interpreted conflict dynamics in song/music preferences through fundamentalist Christian values. The personal associations she brought to these interpretations were her spiritual values. In disagreement with how participants managed conflicts through verbal and physical aggression, avoidance, and concealment; she preferred and recommended open, honest discussion.

 

Robert.

Robert Alexander profiles interpersonal and sociopolitical conflicts. In interpreting conflicts in song/music preferences, Robert recognizes the individual's right to choose one's own destiny and strongly feels that this right should be respected. In his analyses, he considers perspectives from all parties involved. In Arlo Guthrie's "1913 Massacre," a song about a mining company and striking workers, Robert interprets both value (monetary) and ego conflicts. According to Robert's interpretation, the workers want a pay increase and improved working conditions; the company does not want to increase pay or improve working conditions. It is an ego conflict, because both parties struggle for a win/lose power position. The company was determined to win the conflict through intimidation (position/possession/coercion). Robert interprets the company as using the management mode of verbal aggression when they yell "fire" in a crowded room, causing the death of several people, including children [seventy three children died]; physical aggression is used through an outside party: hired scabs. The workers are viewed as using prosocial management in choosing to strike to influence the company to recognize their situation. Robert notes: "However, as in many cases the bigger of the two chose violence over negotiation and death was the end result." In his indepth analysis of this situation in the interview, Robert elaborates upon his perception of the song. From the workers' point of view he comments: "If we just didn't want more money- if we'd just gone along with getting our miserable dollar a day instead of wanting two dollars a day we'd still have our children." From the company's perspective, he quotes: "Look at [see] what your greed for money has done." As he talks this through he says, "Now I'm not sure if that's the company saying that to the miners, or is it the miners saying that to the company, or is it the miners saying that to themselves?" From the company's perspective, he guesses: "He would manage it by sweeping all of the people out and maybe bringing new people in that wanted to work for fifty cents a day rather than a dollar a day." He would prefer to see this conflict managed prosocially: "Maybe the workers should have sent a representative to the mining company to say, `this is what we need, this is what we want'."

From Guns-N-Roses, "Used to Love Her" an ego conflict about failed love between a male and female, Robert identifies physical aggression as the conflict management mode used by the male in killing the female. She wants to leave him, but he recognizes that because the male still hears the female "beyond the grave" this conflict has not been managed nor ended. He sees this as a typical feud of control in a relationship with the male being the aggressor.

Robert chooses Barry McGwire's "Eve of Destruction," from the album Spirit of the 60's to analyze a value conflict. In this song, the individual (Robert says is probably male) has a conflict with society's view that we must go to war to solve someone else's problems. The singer doesn't believe it is worth dying for when death won't solve society's ills. Robert identifies a prosocial management approach because the man sings about society's problems, rather than fighting. He projects avoidance as a management mode: "Could probably have avoided the draft by leaving to Canada or ignoring it." The power source of knowledge is used: "He internalizes the government's actions and believes he could not support the government's decision to go to war." Robert agrees with this form of conflict management: "If I believe strongly for or against, I am responsible to follow my own moral beliefs."

Tesla's "Signs," from the album Five-Man Acoustical Jam, leads Robert into a protracted analysis in the interview of the story of social ostracization of a man with long hair. Content and value conflicts are identified--content conflict is interpreted as society's inferences transferred from the long-haired male to all long haired males. Society uses third party power, the signs, to avoid interaction with people who differ in values or beliefs, and are closed minded to new ideas. Robert interprets the long haired male in the song as using verbal aggression in shouting his frustrations at being discriminated against because of his looks. Robert identifies prosocial management with the long haired male's action of going into places with signs, talking to people about not judging people by their looks. Robert empathizes with the man in the song.

I've had long hair, you know, I've had hair almost down to my butt, then one day I went and got it cut military style, and I was treated different, people said, 'you look so much nicer . . . now I know you're really a nice young man.' Its like, I'm the same person . . . as I was with long hair.

Robert prefers listening to music to watching MTV.

". . . but I don't care to watch t.v. or music video cause they're telling me what I'm seeing instead of me allowing it to be in my own head see that's why I don't like to watch MTV cause they're showing me what the music is and I think music should be each individual's choice of what they want it to be . . ."

Robert chose a prosocial approach to managing a conflict in school where he substitute teaches. He explained to a student that: "I don't want to put rules and restrictions on you, but one must learn to read to function in this society, and there are other students in the classroom who are also learning at the same time and they don't want to be disturbed."

In summary, Robert chose song/music that describes interpersonal and sociopolitical conflicts. He interprets these conflicts through a strong personal identity which he feels should be respected. The personal associations which he brought to these interpretations were interpersonal conflict over personal choices and individual values in opposition with sociopolitical forces. He identified types of conflict management options and when in disagreement, recommended alternative options.

 

Olivia.

Olivia Goodrum was enthusiastic about this assignment, "[laughter] . . . this gets me all fired up . . . I've already got things picked out for next week [laughter]." Olivia describes inner (intrapersonal) conflicts. She thinks that inner subjective knowledge is a primary power source; inner conflicts are the most difficult to manage. She dislikes verbal aggression as a conflict management mode. In Garth Brook's "We Buried the Hatchet," a song about an ongoing argument between two people, she recognizes the ineffectiveness of not sticking to the issue in managing a conflict: "They start with something and they add in everything but the kitchen sink to the argument in five minutes the argument is totally out of hand. They bury the hatchet, but they leave the handle sticking out." Olivia disagrees with this approach to conflict management: "I don't totally agree with it I guess, because I'm not an arguer." In this particular conflict, she prefers to manage the conflict through avoidance or discussion: "I would rather avoid a conflict, or logically think something out before I get into an argument . . . so I don't argue this way." She continued: "A lot of people around me use this type of verbal aggression in their everyday lives, but I try to use it as little as possible." Although she dislikes verbal aggression, she laughs through tears as she admires David Allan Coe's, "Take This Job and Shove It": "That's the way I felt yesterday afternoon after seven midterms [laughter] . . . I think it's real accurate . . . ." As a prior business owner and as an employee in business positions, she relates to the content of the song: "I would've loved to had the guts to say that to someone, but it's just not in my nature to tell someone that. I guess it's just my passive nature, I don't argue." She said that she understands this example of verbal aggression: "I know why people do it, you know, they're pushed so far, and it's definitely verbal aggression." Although Olivia prefers avoidance and discussion to verbal aggression; she emphasizes an appreciation for this particular song, ". . . but that was a great song, I really like it--[laughs] that is kinda a very final statement [laughs] there's not a whole lot that you can add to that after someone tells [you] that." In her analysis of the power distribution in this song, she "would say that the employee doesn't have the authority control, but his prior knowledge of the situation would give him the upper hand in this conflict. The power source would be primarily one sided in this conflict, but the `underdog employee' will win!"

As an elementary teacher with four years experience, Olivia wanted to add an ending comment about conflict management in education as she has experienced it:

I thought I'd add an ending comment that many educators out there today that the only way they know how to manage kids is to yell at the . . . is to use verbal aggression towards them, and that's a very poor way, and it really creates an awful atmosphere in the classroom . . . I've been in so many schools in the last four years that the teachers . . . this is the only way they know how to manage, and it's so poor . . . there's got to be a better way to management than verbal aggression. Once it gets started . . . they just can't quit . . . and it just gets worse and worse and worse and by the end of the day, the classroom has just had it with the teacher, and the teacher has had it with the kids, and it starts over again when they come into the class the next day . . . and, oh, there's just so many more efficient ways to handle conflict beside yelling at kids.

Olivia would prefer that teachers not yell and scream at students in school. "It makes it too difficult to work with them, and half of my instructional period is wasted just getting them calmed down." She continued: "I think conflict management is a real art . . . . I'd like to take a class in conflict management--just a whole class of it." Olivia thinks that she may do her dissertation along the lines of intrapersonal conflict, the "untied knot in the conflict that you're dealing with."

In summary, Olivia was primarily concerned with intrapersonal conflict. She disagreed with verbal aggression as an effective conflict management option. She expressed understanding of "being pushed too far," and recommended discussion and logic in managing conflicts before the conflict escalates beyond the discussion level. She would like to contribute to better conflict management education for teachers and students.

 

Mary.

Mary Raney describes song/music preferences with interpersonal conflict which she relates to her own experiences. She emphasized the healthy aspects of conflict. Christian and family values, knowledge, skill and interpersonal attractiveness were power sources she identified in managing conflict. Through conflict, she gained self esteem and increased motivation toward goal achievement. In this study, Mary seems to place the artists and their song/music in the teacher role in that she perceives lessons about, or attitudes toward, conflict management in the song/music selections. Mary chose to participate in this study because:

The thing that drew me to the project . . . I thought that when my own daughters get bigger, I'll be able to look at what they'll be listening to which I'm sure will be different from what I listen to just like it was with my little sister . . . I couldn't understand why she would listen to that music . . . but I thought maybe it would help me to be able to understand a little better what their music means to them, so that is why I thought I would go ahead and try this . . . I was impressed with how little you really listen to a song until you try to do something like this . . . and I listen to every word and try to decide what you think it means . . . it was different and I didn't expect that . . . I always thought you listened to a song, you hear what it says, but I don't think people do as much as they think they do until you try to do something like this.

Mary demonstrated the above attitude in her analyses of "Summer Madness" by Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince. She said, "What strikes me most about this song is its lack of obvious conflict . . . it's a very relaxed and mellow song about the things people do in the summertime." When she first heard the song, she thought: "I can't use this song because it doesn't have any conflict, but then I began to see where it does deal with conflict." Mary liked the song because it "reminds me of my summers in high school when everything was so relaxed, low stress and there was so much time." Mary identified time as the scarce resource: "Time is the commodity now that is in scarce supply for me. How I allocate my time has a great deal of impact on the conflicts in my life." Mary identifies the power sources in this song as knowledge, skill, and interpersonal attractiveness: "I say knowledge and skill because you need to know how to, and the importance of, relaxing and enjoying yourself, and it takes some skill sometimes to bring it about." She credits the artist with interpersonal attractiveness: "He does have a great sense of humor and it seems a talent for knowing what people will like."

In Eddie Money's "I'll Get By," Mary relates to the element of hope in the song about interpersonal conflict between a man and woman. The conflict is managed through avoidance and mild verbal aggression. The man in the song wants to move away from the house they shared before they separated. Mary perceives the mild verbal aggression as the note the woman left behind when she left. Mary perceives the most effective power source as "the interpersonal attractiveness this woman has for him." She also identifies inner conflict: "The conflict is the struggle within himself and the continued attractiveness he feels for the woman as opposed to her betrayal by deserting him." One of the things Mary best likes about this song is "the element of hope and the fact that he realizes that someday he is going to get over this woman, and find love again." Mary also appreciates the optimism in Wilson Phillip's "Hold on for One More Day." In this song, "the conflict management is prosocial because it is encouraging perseverance when you have problems and don't let them overwhelm you." She understands that "everyone feels at some time or another that everything is just going wrong, and what is the point of even trying." Although Mary is "very much an optimist," she has "felt that way several times in my life." She thinks the main power source in this song is "knowledge." She elaborates: "If you know that everyone feels like this at some time, then you can also know that the feeling will pass." Mary relates to the chorus:

Someday someone's gonna make you want to turn around and say goodbye till then are you gonna let them hold you down and make you cry?

"As a woman I can relate to that because in a man's world sometimes it does feel like you can only go so far. It can be very frustrating." She is encouraged by the line in the song: don't you know things will change things will go your way, if you hold on for one more day?

She appreciates "another line later in the song that talks about us being responsible for our situations and our problems." She agrees with this attitude: "I totally agree with that and I think it is important to recognize that we are responsible for our own happiness."

In summary, Mary appreciates the healthy aspects of conflict. She expressed understanding of others in conflict. She appreciates an optimistic attitude and appreciates learning through experiencing conflict.

 

Ramona.

Ramona Montoya also appreciates the healthy aspects of conflict. Through the conflicts in her personal life, she gained self esteem and independence. Ramona considers Gloria Estefan's "Get on your Feet" her "personal management song, 'cause I've used it personally, whereas some of the others, I really haven't." Ramona identifies the conflict in this song as "a content one, over the means of achieving goals." The artist in the song sings about two choices: letting life pass you by or taking action and achieving goals. Ramona perceived the "get on your feet, get up, and take some action" approach as healthy prosocial conflict management. The opposite to that "would be unhealthy, avoiding . . . surrendering to the conflict." She recognized that the "power and source of that strategy would depend upon the specific goal." She elaborates upon this comment: "Depending upon the goal--if your goal was being on the Olympic swim team, then the power source would be more physical strength." She relates to the conflict that she perceives in this song:

This is special to me because I was unhappy in the profession that I was in and was struggling with ideas of making a change in the profession, which I knew would take two more years of going to college, and just one day, this song just happened to . . . it stuck to me . . . and just get off my feet and take some action toward my goal, and I did, and I listened to this song over and over, all the time, every time I was in the car, this tape went in and I listened to it, and it boosted me to . . . you're not ever going to get there unless you do something about it, because somebody's not going to hand it to you . . . so I did that . . . I did do something about it . . . and I think a lot of it has to do with that song.

Ramona describes the conflict in Garth Brooks' "Burning Bridges" to be about "a man who can't stay in a relationship for a very lengthy period of time." She identifies the conflict as, ". . . a content one over feelings and actions. The artist cannot commit and whenever his partner talks about settling down, he tells her they'll cross that bridge when it arrives . . . he always leaves before it does." She identifies the conflict management option as avoidance, and thinks: "This is an unhealthy way to deal with the conflict." She recognizes that he may not "have the skills to face the problem." Ramona recommends prosocial management: "The healthier way to solve the conflict would be the prosocial method. He needs to openly confront his feelings and fear of long term relationships." She also recommends mediation: "This could be done through talking with a counselor." Ramona does not personally identify with the conflict in the song.

Ramona strongly responded to Tanya Tucker's "Without You, What Do I Do With Me:"

" . . . and the conflict, I felt was one of content generated over the artist's fear of being without this man in her life and the words go, "Without you, where will I go, Where will I turn, I'd sure like to know. She believes that without the man in her life, that uh, she has no life, she has no purpose, she just doesn't know what she's gonna do . . . without him, he's just -her whole life is just consumed with him. And it's really a sad story. I thought that many women and I'd say teenage girls also feel close to that issue. They put so much into relationships that they lose a part of themselves. And, the song, the management in the song -it really gives no management in the song, it just states the conflict. And the whole song is just a song about conflict, you know, and what is she going to do without this man. The best management would be the prosocial approach . . . I thought there needed to be a behavior change in this woman [laughter] so that the next relationship could be a healthy one, because I don't feel that's healthy to be that dependent on one person that you know, maybe for a short time, it may be, 'well, what will I do?', but you should move on. You know, it shouldn't be a long lingering, where will I go, what will I do, what's going to happen to me, I just can't survive without this man, you know, uh, cause she was just too dependent on him for her survival, and I felt that she needed to get a life of her own, not be uh, by placing all of it in dependence on a man . . . and I didn't like this song, because I can just imagine lots of young girls listening to this and it just sorta feeds the flame in them uh, that you know, that if they don't have a man in their life,they just don't have anything . . . and that's the way she sounds on this song, that without him, she's nothing, she's nobody . . . I don't like the words of this song at all . . . and it really surprises me that Tanya Tucker would do a song like this, because everything that I've read or heard about her, she's very independent, so I'm just real surprised that [she] puts the female in the down trodden, submissive, dependent [role], you know, not worth anything without a man.

The researcher responded: "O.K., so you said earlier that you sometimes found yourself singing this song? Ramona acknowledged that she did sing the song a lot because, "Yeah, I liked the music." She emphasized that she really didn't like the song after carefully listening to the words.

I realized that I really didn't like this song--I've sung along with this song and I thought that I liked it, but I'd really never listened . . . and when I really listened, I didn't like it. I didn't like the role it puts the female in . . . . and when I really listened to the song, I realized that."

In summary, Ramona recognized the healthy aspects of conflict, and recommended prosocial management. She found song/music preferences reinforcing of self esteem as well as of negative behaviors. She personally valued independence in the pursuit of goals.

 

Deidre.

Deidre Moore describes interpersonal conflicts in song/music preferences with interpersonal attractiveness and male dominance as the leading power sources and avoidance as the female's leading management mode. Although shy at first, (she did not want to tape the interview) later she agreed to audiotaping the interviews. She was excited about the project: "I really don't know how to recognize conflict . . . if people are not yelling and screaming, I didn't think there was conflict. The associations she brought to song/music preferences and to indepth interviews, reflected a pattern of how conflict is managed in her family: "I'm twenty-one years old, and for me to come up with a solution to anything would be taboo . . . it was the same way for my mother, and for her mother, so I usually just avoid the conflict." Through her writing about song/music preferences and her interviews, she began to listen more carefully to song/music and engaged her friends in the project. She became aware of conflict management options, ". . . there are just so many different ways to go about it . . . ." In concluding the project, she said,

". . . I don't think that I'll ever forget this. Once you learn something like this, I don't think that you can ever just totally push it aside and not see it again . . . cause I know that even when I was on vacations, I thought I'm not going to think about it and relax. But even on vacation, I'd hear this song and it would grab my attention, and I end up seeing these conflicts again . . . I guess this is something I'm always going to see, now that I've learned it, its not going to stop, now that I've learned it, I'm not going to let go of it."

In summary, Deidre's knowledge of conflict dynamics increased from a prior knowledge state of: "I really don't know how to recognize conflict . . . if they aren't yelling and screaming I didn't think there was conflict," to awareness of a range of management options: "There are just so many more ways to go about it." She indicated to the researcher in her responses that the intergenerational pattern of female submissiveness manifested through avoidance of conflict may be altered as a result of her participation in this study in which she came to know that options other than avoidance are available.

Results and Discussion.

In expanding the pattern model that emerged in Phase I, results of this study addressed the research questions of the study in the following ways:

  1. It confirms that college students' perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences, in conjunction with journal keeping, can inform students and teachers about theory and praxis in conflict management education by showing that conflict elements, i.e., dynamics, are not discrete and separate, but are interrelated. That by going into the realm of their song/music, students do identify relevant issues that assist in connecting theoretical material learned in class with everyday communicative situations, and do increase awareness of conflict management options.
  2. Characteristics, personality traits, and submerged associations that influence perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences can be made explicit and understood within the framework of conflict dynamics.
  3. The special meanings interpreted in the images, music, and words respondents perceive in song/music can be made explicit and understood as having individual relevance as well as group relevance.
  4. The reference frames and prior knowledge about conflict management that determined what respondents communicated in their connection making responses to theoretical material about conflict management education and their perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences can be made explicit.
  5. Teachers' attitudes toward conflict management in the classroom can be made explicit through writing about perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences.

Additional advantages of this approach to teaching conflict management is that it enhances listening, promotes reflective thought, and provides cathartic experiences for the participants. For example, as respondents vicariously experienced the conflict situations they were able to reflect on how power sources influence behavior and decision making in conflict situations. Thus, respondents were able to examine conflict management options from a safe perspective. As the teachers in Phase II of the study became aware of how power sources and power distribution may influence behavior, the question emerged that if we look at teachers attitudes toward conflict management in the classroom should we not also look at behavior of students in the classroom as the co-participant in the conflict? Therefore, while the initial questions in Phase I related to college students, it seems prudent to address the question of how elementary and secondary students in a different context might respond to this approach to teaching conflict management. Therefore, this question is addressed in Chapter V under Implications for Further Research.

Respondents in this study reported that through personal associations with conflict situations in song/music preferences, they gained added confidence and stronger self-esteem. Motivation toward academic achievement and independence in achieving goals were seen as the healthy characteristics of conflict. Chapter V provides a summary and suggests implications for further research in informing theory and praxis in conflict management education through investigation of students' perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences.


5.Summary and Implications

This naturalistic study investigated students' perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences as a means of informing theory and praxis in conflict management education.

Initial questions that guided this study were answered:

  1. Do college students perceive conflict and power in song/music preferences? Examples in Chapter III and Chapter IV show that students do perceive conflict and power in song/music preferences.
  2. Do college students identify personal associations with these perceptions? Examples in Chapter III and Chapter IV show that college students do associate personal conflict with these perceptions.
  3. How (if at all) can college students' perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences inform theory and praxis in conflict management education in such a way as to increase students' and teachers' awareness of conflict management options that may be applicable in everyday communicative situations?

In response to these questions, literary (etic) categories in this study included four types of conflict; five types of conflict management; five power sources with three levels of power: 1) high; 2) medium or equal; and 3) low and are shown in Table 1. Nine abstracted (emic) categories emerged that were presented in Chapter III as issues and concerns expressed by the students: These categories are illustrated in Chapter II; integration of etic and emic categories appear in Chapter IV, Phase II: Spring, 1992. Students' identified expressed struggles in conflict at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, group and sociopolitical levels, thus extending course content from intrapersonal to interpersonal and to sociopolitical contexts. 

Table 1
 
Summary of Categories
Etic Categories
Emic Categories
Conflict Types
Conflict
Management
Options
Power Sources
Power Status
       
Pseudoconflict
Withdrawal
Discussion
High
EducationaL
Content Conflict
Surrender
Reward
Equal
Political
Value Conflict
Aggression
Coercive
Low
Spiritual
Ego Conflict
Persuasion
Expert
 
Economic
 
Discussion
Referent
 
Rational
       
Emotional
       
Physical
       
Parental
       
Racial Awareness

Respondents' perceptions of conflict and violence in song/music preferences as recorded in their journals, can assist students in connecting theoretical material learned in class about conflict management with conflict situations in everyday communicative situations. A holistic perspective of conflict dynamics can be experienced by students through writing about relevant associative events in their perceptions of conflict and power in song/music in connection with theoretical material learned in the classroom about conflict dynamics. Students in this study were able to see and identify the interrelationship of conflict dynamics rather than seeing them as discrete and separate elements. They were also able to bring personal associations to these perceptions and suggest management options.

Respondents' perceptions of conflict and violence in song/music preferences is consistent with the literature in that they do recognize the presence of conflict and violence in some song/music. However, this study shows that while they perceive and recognize conflict and violence in song/music, they are not negatively influenced by these perceptions; rather, in the educational context, they illustrate concern for these issues and for the people who are victims of conflict and violence. Respondents demonstrated the insight, maturity and willingness to work toward management and solution of these conflict issues and situations. Journal keeping helped students become aware of their own inner conflicts. As they became aware of the language used in writing and talking about their perceptions of conflict, they also became aware of thinking about their language. Teachers across disciplines can be better informed about the inner conflicts of students through analysis of song/music preferences in conjunction with journal keeping.

Portraits of the participants in Chapter IV, suggest that the present approach may, in part, answer question number one by explicitly answering questions two, three, and four. The approach can assist teachers across disciplines in identifying their theoretical attitudes toward conflict and conflict management education (how they think conflict should be handled in the educational context) by examining personal associations with the perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences. The portraits indicate that characteristics, personality traits, prior knowledge about conflict and conflict management options, and submerged associations that influence perceptions of conflict and power in song/music are highly personal and culture specific.

Responses contained within these portraits are consistent with those in Phase I in that students do perceive conflict and violence in song/music preferences, but within the educational context of this study, are not negatively influenced by them; rather they choose song/music that motivates toward prosocial conflict management and the constructive pursuit of goals. Reference frames and associations that might influence teachers' attitudes toward conflict management in the educational context are strong Christian values, empathy for others, respect for diverse views, harmony, ecology, and fairness. Inner conflict was seen to be the most difficult to manage and resolve.

The song/music preferences indicate that respondents' selections, while in fulfillment of the assignment, offered personal gratification in some way. For example, Olivia expressed vicarious release from inner conflict through "Take This Job and Shove It." Carol liked "Citadel" for its introspective appeal. Cathy recognizes education as the primary power source in managing social conflicts in which students are trapped. She recognized the limitations of education in reaching these students. In asking, ". . . if they don't go to school, how can we reach them . . . .?", she raises the question about the need for programs that would identify students who are not in school.

 


Conclusions.

The Emergent Theory

In bringing together and reconstructing respondents' multiple perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences, a pattern model for informing theory and praxis in conflict management education was suggested and explored through data analysis in Chapter III, and further explored in Chapter IV. Thus, using data drawn from the field to explain the interrelationship of conflict dynamics, a pattern model emerged. A pattern model explains the relations between parts so that meaning is given to each part in the system, thus giving an empirical account of the whole system. Conflict was defined as a highly complex system. Results of this study are consistent with the view that conflict cannot be understood as consisting of separate, isolated entities, but must be defined through their interrelationships. Through this model, participants were able to connect theoretical material learned in class with their perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences. Participants identified relevant issues in conflict situations and identified conflict management options applicable to everyday communicative situations.

Limitations

Limited classroom time with respondents did not allow systematic instruction in conflict management education. However, it promoted self directed study through the use of journal keeping, textual material and song/music preferences. Phase II of the study engaged participants in individualized and personalized instruction during the interviews. This approach integrated the teaching/learning/data analysis processes.

Implications for Further Research

The present study provided a research and instructional approach to conflict management education through which respondents could articulate perceptions of conflict in song/music preferences as a means of informing theory and praxis in conflict management education. These articulations extended course content from intrapersonal communication in the classroom to include analysis of interpersonal conflict and sociopolitical conflict. Within the educational context of this study, responses to perceptions of conflict were prosocially prescriptive, and identified a range of management options applicable in everyday communicative situations. Questions for future research are:

  1. Given the concern expressed in the literature about the content of conflict and violence in song/music, how can this approach be integrated into the teacher education curriculum so that it leads to positive conflict discourse about conflict management?
  2. How might respondents in a different culture respond to this approach, e.g., respondents in an inner city school?
  3. How might elementary and secondary students respond to this approach?
  4. In a subsequent study with these respondents, how might their approach to conflict management change overtime?
  5. As successive generations develop loyalties to the popular music of their time, can teachers use the popular music enjoyed by their students a) to understand the conflicts that trouble their students most; and b) to help their students consider alternative solutions to such conflicts that contribute to healthy personal growth in self-confidence and self-esteem and to the positive resolution of real conflicts in the students' lives?

 Implications for Instruction in Conflict Management

The implications for instruction in conflict management that emerged in this study include increased involvement of the student in instructional content through issues that are personally relevant to them. Students were able to participate in the classroom text and make connections between the theoretical material presented in class and in the text and its applicability in everyday communicative situations. Awareness of conflict management options and the appropriate application of these options in everyday communicative situations was increased. Theoretical material learned in class can be reinforced in the students' environment outside class. Through journal keeping, students were able to engage in indepth analysis of conflicts across a variety of contexts.

Transferability

This study attempted to reconstruct students' perceptions of conflict and power in song/music preferences as a means of informing theory and praxis in conflict management education. Findings in this study are value bound and context specific. As Lincoln & Guba (1985) point out, proof of similarities between contexts is more the responsibility of the person seeking application of findings in a different context, than with the original investigator. This researcher agrees with Lincoln & Guba (1985) who state, ". . . the responsibility of the original investigator ends in providing sufficient descriptive data to make such similarity judgments possible" (p. 298). This researcher has attempted to meet this responsibility through descriptive data presented in the study.


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TRANS - Revista Transcultural de Música