Work Conference ‘Depolarization & Dialogue’

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21/06/2018   13:00 - 21:00
Stadhuis Arnhem

Society has become increasingly polarized in recent years. We see more people with strong opinions condemning others with other points of view. There is more us-them thinking, images of each other get distorted more quickly, facts are easily drowned out by opinions and feelings. Certainly before  elections emotions flare, with a special role for the public and social media. 

This polarization takes place to a greater or lesser extent along multiple opposites, such as:

  • Political establishment – the angry citizen
  • Globalization, European Union – nationalism, Euroscepticism
  • Acceptance of migrants, Islam – assimilation required, exclusion
  • Reception of refugees – closing borders
  • Anti-racism – traditions, such as Black Pete, historical statues
  • Democratic rule of law – radicalization

It is partly true that it is mainly the debates by politicians and opinion makers that are polarized. There is the societal middle where citizens arenot clearly pro or contra but at the same time have positive and negative ideas about such issues. But they are also worried. If no one pays attention to their worries, polarized debates will still influence their choices.

Next to the middle there are still the flanks and extremes, there are strong and polarized differences of opinion, up to the level of nations, influenced by many factors including the personalities of leaders and followers, cultural differences, and the diverse structuring of the political systems. And under polarization there are these real divisions in society, the split between the well-educated elite and the non-privileged lower-educated, the rich and the poor, as well as segregated ethnic groups.

What is needed is room for dialogue to connect with others and to discuss issues, room for careful investigation and argumentation to understand complexities and viewpoints, and to find adequate solutions together. A difficult task lies ahead of us. We hope this work conference can contribute.

Subjects conference

  1. Polarization as concept; backgrounds and different forms of unwanted polarization; differences across social milieus
  2. The dynamics of polarization and depolarization; populistic tendencies; radicalization
  3. Approaches and methods for prevention, depolarization, dialogue, handling diversity; adaptation of communication strategies
  4. Special: The role of the media in polarization, depolarization and dialogue; the dynamics of the media; constructive journalism

Dutch-German-European exchange of knowledge and mutual discussion to find better ways to deal with unwanted polarization and to start up new initiatives for dialogue and cooperation


  • Social scientists and researchers
  • Educators, trainers, and developers of methods
  • Practitioners, professionals and volunteers who face the challenge to depolarize and stimulate dialogue processes
  • Special: media professionals, programme-makers and journalists


CLICK HERE for more information about THE PROGRAM

Early Bird until 28 May:   
Register via       
Thursday 21 June 2018
13.00 – 21.00 h
Stadhuis (Town Hall), Koningstraat 38, 6811 DG Arnhem
Sietar-members  € 40,  non-members  € 70,  students  € 40
Sietar-members  € 30,  non-members  € 50,  students  € 30



Stay Human – coalition
As a result of the unexpectedly fierce resistance of some groups against the reception of refugees, the coalition Stay Human was founded in The Netherlands. It aims to contribute to depolarization by promoting scientific research, development of depolarization methods, and cooperative networking.
More than 50 organizations are involved, such as refugee organizations, Red Cross, PAX, Churches-in-Action, association of municipalities, trade unions, employers’ associations. In the conference we want to bring some of them into contact with German partner organizations to investigate cooperation.

Sietar Nederland. See for Sietar also: Sietar Europe
Stay Human
Hogeschool Arnhem Nijmegen
PAX Nederland / –