I am seeking collaborators on research on the process of bridging political divides during our current crisis of polarization.
This work will ultimately result in the co-authoring of a book length manuscript and scholarly articles
I am seeking full partners in this project. Collaborators will work together to analyze already collected data on collaborative political problem-solving.
If you are interested, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a cover letter stating the basis of your interest in the project, and your cv.
I have have recently completed data collection on a study assessing the effectiveness of these methods for generated shared proposals to resolve contentious political problems. Six individuals of different political orientations participated in weekly videotaped and transcribed 2-hour sessions over the course of 18 months. After training, participants engaged in moderated forms of collaborative problem-solving designed to produced shared solutions to three socio-political issues: (a) school uniforms, (b) capital punishment and (c) race relations involving police. In each round, participants were able to forge dramatic levels of consensus about solutions to these problems. Ideological differences were addressed through a process called dialectical problem-solving. This process allows participants to jointly create novel, partially shared ideological commitments on the topics in question.
This project has resulted in over 50 hours of videotaped training and moderated conversations. In my view, the data are a treasure trove for a great deal of process and outcome research: What were the processes and outcomes of the training? What were its strengths and challenges? How did the discussions operate? Through what developmental pathways was consensus on different issues formed? How did conflict among the participants operate? What were the processes by which conflict was managed and resolved? What blocked the processes of forging consensual solutions?
We will use micro-developmental methods of analysis, supplemented by any methods and research questions they wish to bring to the project. The project is expected to take place over the next year, at least, and result in collaborative publications. I do not currently have funding for this project. I am proceeding under the presupposition that funding would be an added benefit but not necessarily forthcoming.
We live in an era of political polarization, not only the USA but in Western democracies more generally. Democratic traditions have been challenges. We are losing what might be called our agonistic common ground – the shared beliefs and practices need to spur respectful and constructive democratic dialogue. Against this backdrop, I suggest that we need to cultivate collaborative rather than adversarial forms of political problem-solving. Toward this end, I have drawn on the principles and practices of conflict resolution, relational-developmental theory, and models of dialectical thinking to develop discursive methods that can help us bridge political divides and work toward genuine solutions to seemingly intractable social and political problems.
Theoretical Papers, Relevant Research and Videos
Several initial papers and projects on the theoretical framework and results of this study have been completed or are in process. They include:
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