The workshop shed light on the spill-over effects of polarisation in various aspects of everyday life. For example, how polarisation affects investment decisions, consumer behaviour as well as hiring practices.
12 July 2023, the Tackling Polarisation in Communities workshop in the Cardiff University sbarc|spark building, organised by WISERD and the Aberystwyth University Dialogue Centre, brought together leaders and practitioners from various sectors in Wales. The workshop aimed to address polarisation and foster community cohesion. Speakers Alison Goldsworthy and Professor Michael Woods shared valuable insights into the causes and effects of polarisation, supported by examples, case studies, and videos. Participants actively engaged in the workshop, having the opportunity to ask questions, express their opinions, and contribute to the discussions based on what they learned and observed. The workshop concluded with a productive brainstorming session, where participants collaborated to generate ideas on how to reduce polarisation. This workshop provided an exploration of various aspects of polarisation.
What is polarisation?
Polarisation goes beyond divisions formed around one or more policy positions or issues. It is closely tied to how we identify ourselves and the people we surround ourselves with. This can lead to biased perceptions and a lack of appreciation of diversity.
“We like to put people into groups and that alters how we behave towards them.”
What can we do about this?
Undoing polarisation is challenging as it runs deep. It affects people subconsciously and has a significant impact, especially when we are not even aware of it. But we can start approaching this challenge by being honest and conscious of the fact we are always growing as well as being sincere in saying things like “I don’t know, can you teach me more about this?”. In this way we can be open to new perspectives and insights.
Curiosity is the key in creating a safe environment for people to express themselves with commonality being built through mutual understanding and connection.
During the workshop, this valuable piece of advice was shared by one particular participant: “Engage by asking questions, identify areas of agreement, and then express your opinion, ask advice from people and keep in mind that they’re a human being.”
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