Othering and Polarisation
15 – 19 August 2022 @ Lorentz Center Snellius
Othering and Polarization are a threat to the cohesion of our society, covering different dimensions such as economics, political preferences, and culture. The workshop was an engaging and fruitful experience bringing together researchers with different perspectives, theories, and methodological expertise to understand how social research can contribute to the issue.
Open discussions and hands-on sessions helped find common ground or identify areas of further knowledge for each participant. The hybrid format allowed fair participation of both offline and online participants. We used blackboard walls of the center for brainstorming and identifying different meanings of “Othering and Polarization” used to set up an online dictionary. The workshop also included an online talk with Jo Berry presenting her peace-resolution organization (https://buildingbridgesforpeace.org/about-building-bridges-for-peace/jo-berry-founder/).
Each day two of the participants presented their academic work related to othering and polarization, leading to open discussions. Talks covered topics from theoretical frameworks as social psychology and opinion polarization, to methods as agent-based modeling, to empirical cases such as spatial data criminality or Covid-19 relief policies debates. We formed three groups. Participants could shift between groups. Within the groups, we built roadmaps of what are the main mechanisms of causality or context of application that should be considered when studying othering and polarization. Discussions were synthetized by facilitators to summarize the contribution of each group, and used to inspire discussions.
In the last two days, participants gathered into project-based groups to lay the foundations for future collaborations after the workshop. Projects proposed include polarization in relation to cultural dimensions, social categorization and opinion dynamics, and polarization in response to societal interventions. Establishing such interdisciplinary partnerships is one key outcome of our workshop, together with our online dictionary and connections to other working groups presented during the workshop and present through some participants that are part of both groups (e.g. SIAM “Social Identity in Agent-based Modelling” (https://sites.google.com/view/siam-network)).
We are very grateful for the resourceful and efficient support we received from the Lorentz Center, from funding our workshop to logistics as the daily setting of the room, helping with social events, and also leisure activities.
Bruce Edmonds (Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom) Julia Eberlen (Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium)
Rocco Paolillo (University of Bremen, Germany)
Geeske Scholz (James Hutton Institute, United Kingdom)
Wander Jager (University of Groningen, the Netherlands) Dan Stowell (Naturalis Biodiversity – Tilburg University, NL)