Reflective structured dialogue: A qualitative thematic analysis

AuthorLlewellyn Cornelius,Raye Rawls,Brandy B. Walker,Katherine Gower
Published date01 March 2020
Date01 March 2020
Reflective structured dialogue: A qualitative
thematic analysis
Katherine Gower
| Llewellyn Cornelius
| Raye Rawls
Brandy B. Walker
School of Social Work, University of
Georgia, Athens, Georgia
J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership
Development, University of Georgia,
Athens, Georgia
Katherine Gower, School of Social Work,
University of Georgia, 279 Williams Street,
Athens, GA 30602.
Reflective Structured Dialogue (RSD) is a specific type of
dialogue intervention designed to help individuals on
opposing sides of controversial political and social issues
share their perspectives, and communicate in a manner that
allows them to better understand one another. The current
study examined outcomes from case studies on RSD using
qualitative thematic analysis. Eight articles were analyzed,
using an inductive grounded theory approach. The major
themes that emerged were embracing multiple perspectives,
positions of power, stronger/more positive connections,
better communication, personal growth/self-reflection, and
challenges/limitations. Implications, recommendations, and
suggestions for future research are discussed.
1.1 |Increasing polarization
In recent years, polarization has dramatically increased among various groups within the United
States, particularly with regards to social and political issues. A recent report from the Pew Research
Center [PRC] (2017) indicates that in the past two decades, the proportion of Americans who hold a
mix of liberal and conservative views has declined, and the average partisan gap between Democrats
and Republicans has more than doubled across a variety of issues, including government aid, racial
discrimination, and immigration, among others. Meanwhile, party antipathy has risen dramatically:
the proportion of Republicans and Democrats who express very unfavorableopinions toward the
opposing party has increased from 16 to 38% among democrats, and from 17 to 43% among republi-
cans, since 1994 (PRC, 2017).
As Cleven, Bush, and Saul (2018) observe, increasing polarization presents serious challenges for
any society that aims to embrace diverse opinions and perspectives. It leads to a number of negative
outcomes, such as self-censorship and withdrawal from political participation (Hayes, Scheufele, &
Received: 2 April 2019 Revised: 11 September 2019 Accepted: 20 September 2019
DOI: 10.1002/crq.21271
Conflict Resolution Quarterly. 2020;37:207221. © 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 207

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