Faith, Peace Building, and Intra-Community Dialogue in South Yorkshire, UK

Faith, Peace Building, and Intra-Community Dialogue in South Yorkshire, UK

by Stephanie Steels Richard Slade – [ Journal of Dialogue Studies Vol 4 ]

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Abstract

This paper discusses the outcomes of action research with an interfaith community dialogue project. The project was established to encourage resilience to the divisive narratives of extreme or radical right-wing groups in South Yorkshire, UK. In communities where there is antipathy towards ‘outsiders’, contact theory encourages intergroup interaction as a way of improving relationships. However, this research found that where people could or would not take part in inter-group contact, an alternative approach was therefore required. This research identified an innovative process of facilitated ‘safe-space’ intra-community dialogue that involved groups whose ‘out-group’ antipathy could feed extremism. Participants could talk amongst themselves about why they felt as they did without the expectation they would interact with other groups. This research identified the role of faith in challenging extremism and a dialogue process that has potential for wider application in settings where identity-related hostility is present.
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