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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 44028 Find in a Library
Title: TWO APPROACHES TO CONTEMPORARY DISPUTE BEHAVIOR AND CONSUMER PROBLEMS
Journal: LAW AND SOCIETY REVIEW  Volume:11  Issue:4  Dated:(SPRING 1977)  Pages:667-677
Author(s): E H STEELE
Corporate Author: Law and Society Assoc
University of Denver
College of Law
United States of America
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: Law and Society Assoc
Denver, CO 80204
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: INSTITUTIONAL AND INDIVIDUAL APPROACHES TO STUDYING BEHAVIOR IN COMMON CONSUMER DISPUTES ARE DISCUSSED, WITH REFERENCE TO A STUDY OF A NEWSPAPER ACTION LINE AND TO A SURVEY OF CONSUMERS.
Abstract: THE INSTITUTIONAL APPROACH FOCUSES ON DETERMINING WHAT INSTITUTIONS PROCESS DISPUTES, HOW THE INSTITUTIONS OPERATE AND INTERRELATE, WHO THEIR CLIENTS ARE, AND WHAT OUTCOMES ARE ACHIEVED. SUCH STUDIES GENERALLY EXAMINE ONE TYPE OF INSTITUTION AT A TIME, E.G., TRIAL COURTS, REGULATORY AGENCIES, OMBUDSMEN, AND INSURANCE COMPANIES. A STUDY OF A NEWSPAPER OMBUDSMAN CONCLUDED THAT THE PRINCIPAL FUNCTION OF THE ACTION LINE IS TO ASSIST THE COMPLAINANT WHO HAS BEEN UNABLE TO OBTAIN A RESPONSE FROM ANOTHER PARTY, RATHER THAN TO INTERVENE WHEN A RESPONSE IS EVASIVE OR HOSTILE. THE NEWSPAPER OMBUDSMAN CAN FACILITATE COMMUNICATION BUT CANNOT MEDIATE OR ADJUDICATE. NEWSPAPER ACTION LINES BRIDGE GAPS IN COMMUNICATION THAT ARE PECULIAR TO URBANIZED, LARGE-SCALE SOCIETIES IN WHICH INFORMAL SOCIAL CONTROLS HAVE LOST EFFECTIVENESS. THE OTHER MAJOR EMPIRICAL APPROACH TO STUDYING DISPUTES FOCUSES ON THE GENERAL POPULATION RATHER THAN ON INSTITUTIONS, INVESTIGATING THE INCIDENCE AND DISTRIBUTION OF PROBLEMS IN THE POPULATION AND THE STYLES AND STRATEGIES USED TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEMS. ONE SUCH SURVEY FOUND THAT OVER HALF OF THE RESPONDENTS WHO PERCEIVED PROBLEMS IN CONSUMER TRANSACTIONS AND VOICED THEIR COMPLAINTS TO THE SELLER WERE SATISFIED WITH THE RESULTS, AS WERE APPROXIMATELY ONE-THIRD OF THOSE WHO HAD VOICED THEIR COMPLAINTS TO THIRD-PARTY REMEDY AGENTS. SUCH DATA SUGGEST THAT MANY CONSUMER GRIEVANCES ARE RIGHTFULLY CHARACTERIZED AS DISAGREEMENTS AND MISUNDERSTANDINGS RATHER THAN AS INSTANCES OF FRAUD, DISHONESTY, OR PREDATORY CONDUCT ON THE PART OF THE SELLER. THE IMPLICATION IS THAT THE DISPUTE SETTLEMENT FRAME OF REFERENCE IS USEFUL IN ANALYZING THE CONSUMER'S SITUATION AND IN CONCEPTUALIZING REFORM STRATEGIES. BOTH THE SURVEY AND THE NEWSPAPER STUDY SUPPORT THE HYPOTHESIS THAT SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND EDUCATIONAL LEVEL CORRELATE WITH THE PERCEPTION AND VOICING OF CONSUMER PROBLEMS AND WITH THE USE OF THIRD-PARTY REMEDY AGENTS. THE SURVEY FINDINGS ALSO SUGGEST THE COMPLEXITY OF THE CONCEPT OF ACCESS TO DISPUTE INSTITUTIONS. REFERENCES ARE LISTED. FOR RELATED ARTICLES, SEE NCJ-44029 AND 44030.
Index Term(s): Alternative dispute settlement; Behavior; Consumer protection; Ombudsmen; Research methods; Surveys
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=44028

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