Let's Talk: Interpersonal Dialogue in a Moment of Political Hostility

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2019

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The goal of this dissertation is to explore how US political division impacts interpersonal dialogue, specifically: how it impedes dialogue, the effects of political identity in this process, and how training aimed at these issues can help develop skills for cross-political dialogue. My assumption is that this is due to the exposure of latent issues in American society, these activated social boundaries, shape dynamics of power and legitimacy, solidified ingroup boundaries, and sharpened the perceptions of threat posed by the defined outgroup. In turn, this has stunted people’s ability to exchange ideas in a calm, civil manner. I suggest that there are four key components of interpersonal dialogue that have been impacted by this increased tension and are in need of repair. These components are: mutual respect; acknowledgement of needs/ self-awareness; independent critical thinking/ engagement of surroundings; and trust-building.

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