Chapter

Negotiating Unity and Difference

in Talking about Race

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226869063
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226869087 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226869087.003.0006
Negotiating Unity and Difference

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Civic intergroup dialogues are a space in which people are expected to negotiate a balance between unity and difference, but how do they do this? How do people collectively work out whether they should communicate in ways that pay attention to difference, and how do they make sense of themselves as members of the same community and yet people who identify with particular social groups? Richard Merelman, Greg Streich, and Paul Martin studied the content of the National Endowment for the Humanities dialogues on pluralism in the United States, specifically the content of twenty-one of the dialogues in the upper Midwest. They found that the conversations cycled back and forth between an emphasis on unity in the form of American national identity and on diversity in the form of ethnic and racial pluralism. Seven of these dialogues used a Study Circles format in which the participants met more than once. In five of these series, Merelman and colleagues observed that the later sessions emphasized national identity more than the first sessions.

Keywords: Richard Merelman; Greg Streich; Paul Martin; intergroup dialogues; pluralism; United States; unity; diversity; national identity

Chapter.  18183 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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