Sustaining Dialogue in Polarised Political Contexts: Moving beyond Shared-Identity to Dialogical Position Exchanges.

English, Anthony and Mahendran, Kesi (2021). Sustaining Dialogue in Polarised Political Contexts: Moving beyond Shared-Identity to Dialogical Position Exchanges. In: International Review of Theoretical Psychologies: Measured Lives – Theoretical Psychology in an Era of Acceleration (Winther-Lindqvist, Ditte Alexandra ed.), International Society of Theoretical Psychology, Denmark.

Abstract

The rise of populism is a prevalent issue on the political landscape both in Europe and the wider world. Such ideologies create defamatory political narratives and exacerbate already partisan social media spaces. This trend challenges psychologists interested in politics to consider what factors could influence dialogue sustainment in these polarised contexts. The current focus of social psychology research is towards identity-based theories to mediate such interactions. The purpose of this paper is to challenge the idea that identity-models are the only effective means of depolarising real-world, discursive political conflicts. This article critiques identity on the following: (1) Ontological assumptions of binary group oppositionality are limiting and unrepresentative of real-world interactions, and (2) Current identity-based models for mediating are ineffective in highly polarised, real-world contexts. We consider the issue of polarising political discourse from a dialogical perspective and propose the Dialogue Sustainment Theoretical Model as an alternative. The model considers: (1) Citizens as political actors with worldviews, (2) The role of the dynamic & relational positionality, and (3) The influence of chronotopic boundaries on political debate. Whilst we acknowledge identity can transcend polarisation in certain contexts, it does not possess such a capacity in politically polarised, real-world contexts. Instead, we argue for an alternative model which is dialogically-focused and offers a distinctive insight into sustaining dialogue.

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