pluralism


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pluralism

a diffusion of power and interests in a society or ORGANIZATION, such that there is a plurality of interest groups. Those who subscribe to pluralism argue that there will inevitably be differences between individuals or groups in any complex social institution over, for instance, the distribution of rewards.

Pluralists claim that it is better to accept these differences than to suppress them, because once they are brought into the open it is possible to find mechanisms for resolving potential conflict to the benefit of all. In INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS the pluralist frame of reference is held by those who believe that the interests of management and workers will inevitably differ on occasions, for example over the size of an annual pay increase. They argue that it is better to accept that TRADE UNIONS are the legitimate expressions of employee interests rather than to refuse recognition on the grounds that employer-employee interests are identical. If the latter policy is adopted CONFLICT may break out without warning and with no acceptable means of resolving it. If, on the other hand, unions are recognized then management and unions can work together to devise procedures (for example GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES) that will prevent differences of interest from developing into open conflict and provide a means of resolving conflict if it should occur. See MANAGEMENT STYLE.