Virtual Dialogues: A Method to Deal with Polarisation in a Time of Social Isolation Caused by COVID-19

How can a method of dialogue stimulate the learning of dialogic principles and practices in a virtual environment and contribute to the confrontation of social polarisation? This was the question that motivated the analysis and discussion of a project developed in Brazil during the months of May and June, 2020, which were characterised by the creation of three dialogue groups in a virtual environment (Google Meet). Throughout eight meetings, lasting one hour and a half each, the seventeen participants could learn and practice dialogue, through a method developed by the first author of this paper, based on the ideas of David Bohm, William Isaacs, and Paulo Freire. To analyse the results, three categories were recognized: learning dialogue; dialogue and the virtual environment; dialogue, social isolation, and polarization. The results found indicated that virtual dialogues seem to encourage the learning of dialogic principles and practices and the promotion of the transformation of interpersonal relations with people of different points of view, showing the possible contribution of such a proposal to the confrontation of polarisation. We emphasise that this article is a first qualitative approximation regarding the method, and there is still a long way to go of scientific deepening in the field of dialogue studies in order to ascertain its effects and challenges. Therefore, we suggest future research on the method, in different application contexts.

Pedro Roberto Jacobi

Senior Professor, Institute of Energy and Environment of the University of São Paulo

Pedro Roberto Jacobi is a Senior Professor in the postgraduate program of environmental science at the Institute of Energy and Environment of the University of São Paulo (Brazil).

Rafael de Araujo Arosa Monteiro

Rafael de Araujo Arosa Monteiro

PhD Candidate, University of São Paulo

Rafael de Araujo Arosa Monteiro is a PhD student and MSc in Environmental Science (2018) from the University of São Paulo.

Renata Ferraz de Toledo

Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at São Judas University

Renata Ferraz de Toledo is a graduate in biological sciences (1997) from Universidade Estadual Paulista and environmental educator (1999) at the School of Public Health of the University of São Paulo.