The animating question that guides this thesis is how can polarized interpersonal argument dissipate so that new possibilities can emerge? Through a multilayered autoethnographical research method, an account of emergent change is developed that integrates foundational concepts of intersubjectivity and conflict to contend that the dissipation of interpersonal argument can be made more probable by altering the intersubjective processes in which it emerges.
The research’s autoethnographical framework focuses on the interiority of the researching self while investigating interpersonal argument through three aspects of intersubjectivity: activities of consciousness, interactions in spaces of encounter, and the dynamic interplay of contextual systems of meanings. Four autoethnographic case studies empirically illuminate how the discernment of threat can instigate the sometimes choiceless decisions to defend through conflict behaviors. These inquiries into interpersonal argument through the subjectivity of the researcher explore how diminishing the constrictive effect of threat, instigating reflexivity, changing spaces of encounter, and mobilizing other social meanings can contribute to a more probable emergence of change.