Jürg Steiner (University of Bern)

"Deliberation across Deep Divisions"

20 April 2017, 2:00 pm


In group discussions of any kind there tends to be an up and down in the level of deliberation. To capture this dynamic we coined the concept of Deliberative Transformative Moments (DTM). In deeply divided societies deliberation is particularly important in order to arrive at peace and stability, but deliberation is also very difficult to be attained. Therefore, we wanted to learn about the conditions that in group discussions across the deep divisions of such societies help deliberation. We organized such group discussions between ex-guerrillas and ex-paramilitaries in Colombia, Serbs and Bosnjaks in Srebrenica, and poor residents and local police officers in the favelas (slums) of Brazil. We could identify factors that help to transform discussions from low to high deliberation and risk transformations in the opposite direction. We could also identify factors that help to keep a discussion at a high level of deliberation, and, in a next step, we could determine to what extent long sequences of deliberation had a positive impact on the outcomes of the discussions. Finally, we show how our research results can have a long term effect if it is used in schools of such deeply divided societies.