BCC.20.005 – Dialogue and Conflict

Route: Between conflict and cooperation

Cluster question: 047 How can we promote social cohesion in a society that is culturally and religiously diverse?

Societies in The Netherlands and elsewhere polarize. The differences and lack of interaction between the various ethnic, political, religious and cultural views of life have reached a level that jeopardizes the cohesion of society. Dialoguing is generally recognized to remedy this societal evil, as is witnessed by the emergence of numerous dialogical activities on the local and national level.
This project analyzes in what way dialoguing can enhance a constructive interaction between different views and what its limitations are. It investigates what kind of dialogues are helpful in what kind of conflict situations. It will pay particular attention to the long-term effects of dialoguing. Its goal is to provide scientifically undergirded guidance for decision-making in (high) conflict situations and, if possible, to avoid such situations.
In order to achieve this goal, this project delves into the theory on dialoguing. It develops criteria for distinguishing dialoguing from other forms of communication and identifies the presuppositions necessary for successful dialoguing (e.g. a trustful environment). It will distinguish between different kinds of dialogical activities. One of its foci are ‘empathic dialogues’ in which the conflicting parties ‘stand in each other’s shoes’, exchange perspectives. It scrutinizes to what extent empathic dialogues help to build a consciousness that is respectful of Otherness in the long run.
We co-operate with the project ‘Verschillen Waarderen’, a cooperation between several technical universities (MBO’s) which focuses on dealing constructively with diversity. We are looking for further societal (and academic) partners who wrestle with and/or are interested in developing dialogical activities in the practical realm and reflect on them. This project aims at a synthesis between practice and theory in which both benefit from each other and intends to provide a dialogue-platform which serves as an advisory board and (national) information center on dialogue.


Conflict, Dialogue, Empathy, Polarization, Radicalization


Organisation Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)
Name Prof.dr. D.M.K.H. (Dirk-Martin) Grube, MA
E-mail d.m.k.h.grube@vu.nl
Website https://research.vu.nl/en/persons/dmkh-grube