Civic Fusion Mediating Polarized Public Disputes

By Susan L. Podziba. Civic fusion is when people bond to achieve a common public goal, even as they sustain deep value differences. This book offers proven strategies for moving polarized parties to consensus solutions based on the author's 25 years of mediation experience, including working with pro-life and pro-choice leaders after fatal shootings at women's health clinics, crane industry and union representatives to develop federal worker safety regulations, and citizens of a failed city that reclaimed their democracy by writing a consensus charter.

This product is available for purchase at Please click on the button to the left to be redirected to Amazon’s website. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates.

Amidst political polarization, public policy mediators help disputing parties contribute their wisdom and experiences to resolve their complex public conflicts. Mediators trigger and sustain civic fusion, a phenomenon in which people with passionately different political positions bond to address common public goals without sacrificing their core values.

In Civic Fusion: Mediating Polarized Public Disputes, author Susan Podziba draws on three of her past projects to explain how to move parties from polarization to deliberative negotiations that result in innovative consensus solutions.

  • During secret meetings in the wake of fatal attacks at two women’s health clinics in Massachusetts, as pro-life and pro-choice leaders continued to vehemently disagree about when life begins and a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, they also acted in concert to protect born people from violence.
  • When crane accidents accounted for the highest incidence of worker fatalities and serious injuries in construction, the crane industry, unions, and the federal government engaged in regulatory negotiations that resulted in consensus standards to protect workers. As a result, fewer people will fall from or be crushed by cranes in the U.S.
  • After being pulled back from the brink of bankruptcy, the City of Chelsea reclaimed its democracy after citizen-representatives negotiated the terms of a new city charter with systematic input from thousands of fellow citizens. Ten years later, the city balances its budgets and attracts private investment.

Civic Fusion analyzes how policy mediators carefully design and implement processes to guide representative negotiators to resolve deep disagreements when the status quo is unsustainable, no party can effectively act unilaterally, and all are frustratingly stuck in place.

Civic Fusion Attributes

Publisher: Chicago, IL: American Bar Association (2013)