"Why Societies Need Dissent" by Cass R. Sunstein

Topics: Cass Sunstein, Sociology, Fear Pages: 2 (456 words) Published: August 10, 2005
This book by Cass R. Sunstein deviates from much of the norm by advocating the necessity of dissent and prevailing views, arguing that they should be upheld and commended rather than struck down and criticized. However, this University of Chicago professor argues that dissent is something that should not be just dumbly applauded but be greatly heeded to as dissent often proves to have a beneficial effect as well. Sunstein goes on to say that organizations and nations would have better chances of prospering if they promote openness and allow dissent. Sunstein starts the book by discussing the conformers, admitting that conformity can be easy an dat times, not bad, as it prevents ostracism, allows decisions based on others' experience, and gives minimal anxiety )as he presents with his Shakespeare, Lincoln and cigarette examples). However, Sunstein quickly counters this by bluntly stating that conformity can lead the whole mob to jump off the cliff together. He argues that people are often restricted by the fear of what people may think of certain deviant behaviors, constantly fearing reprehension and ostracism. So the people rather turn to conformity as the "safe" way, the eay way. And indeed, conformity gives us a basis from which to make decisions, but at the same time, may lead to bad decisions when information is withheld to challenge the consensus. In this book, Sunstein challenges much of the authories established, including business leaders, legislators, and even the president, and insists that those who don't just tolerate openness but also welcome and incorporates it succeed more often. He argues that business leaders must have recognized this, as advisors bring the dissent straight home to allow their business to adapt to what dissent demands. This flexibility allows for survival and growth, whereas rigid inability to change simply ruins the company. The author brings up an interesting view on our freedom of speech. As expecred, he says that a...
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