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Every-Day Polarization Questions

Polarization occurs when two parties fail to agree on an issue leading to an interpersonal or community conflict in which the neutral parties take two opposing sides in the conflict. The parties involved assume extreme positions as the conflict develops, making it increasingly difficult to solve the conflict. As a conflict escalates, it reaches a polarized state, where mistrust and hatred stand between the parties, making it hard to achieve a compromise as the parties take more rigid positions. Fear combined with misperceptions of the parties involved in a conflict leads to polarization. Leadership can also contribute to polarization by not properly addressing the grievances of the rival groups. When the course of action recommended by the leadership is not satisfactory to one of the rival groups or in case of biasness, polarization becomes more intense. Maintaining clear lines of communication and interaction between the rival groups can enhance peaceful relationships and the dissolution of conflicts.

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There are many issues that cause polarization of a society leading to intergroup conflicts. The first common type of polarization that I normally face is political polarization, where individuals realign themselves along with partisan political positions. Political polarization creates potential conflicts as individuals become organized into rival groups, each with distinct identities and interests that are different from those of the other groups (Rubin, Pruitt, & Kim, 1994, p.96). Polarized political opinions have the potential to cause political instability in a region or country.

Another common dimension of polarization is ethnic or racial polarization, which also has the potential of escalating into an interethnic conflict. Ethnic or racial polarization occurs when the population made up of diverse ethnic fractions becomes divided into distinct groups different from the other racial or ethnic groups. Ethnic polarization contributes to civil conflicts, which lead to increased incidences of civil wars in countries with many diverse ethnic groups.

Religious differences also contribute to polarizations in modern societies. In religious polarization, “the groups acquire contrasting religious views and fail to accommodate divergent views from other religious groups resulting in religious polarization” (Rubin et al., 1994, p. 99). Another dimension of polarization includes economic polarization, which is caused by inequality in resource allocation between regions. Economic inequality leads to economic groups or classes, which can contribute to social tension and conflicts. As economic inequality increases, the economic groups become more and more polarized, breeding social evils such as crime. The final common dimension of polarization includes regional polarization, where nations or regions form common trading blocks with distinct economic policies from those of the other regions.

To avoid polarization, effective communication and interaction between rival groups are important. To avoid political polarization, I first understand the contentious issue before listening to other people’s opinions. After that, I communicate my point of view effectively without arousing any emotions or rivalry. In religious polarization, I prefer to accommodate diverse views on a doctrine by looking at an issue from the perspective of the other group. I avoid ethnic polarization by understanding other people’s cultures and ways of life to dispel ethnic misperceptions and damaging stereotypes. To avoid economic polarization, I favor charity programs that provide for the poor and equality in the allocation of resources. With regard to regional polarization, I support proper economic policies to enhance the fair distribution of economic resources.

In day-to-day life, polarization is common, especially in politics and even in social life. I encounter rival political opinions from the ones that I hold. Misinterpretation of the political issues by many people often contributes to political polarization. I prefer to harmonize the conflicting public opinions to avoid polarization. Additionally, I get polarized on the religious perspective. Interreligious views often conflict with my personal religious beliefs. Even within one religion, differences arise due to different interpretations of the doctrines. I prefer to be accommodating to divergent religious views while at the same time communicating my opinion to the other groups.

Effective communication between rival groups plays an important role in preventing polarization between two groups. I would use communication strategies that focus on encouraging the parties involved in a conflict to compromise as a way of reducing polarization. Communication should also “involve on joint projects that enable the parties to focus on common issues and remove the focus on the divisive issues” (Rubin et al., 1994, p.103), which helps to build trust among the parties involved in the conflict and further prevents polarization. Communication between rival groups also promotes a better understanding of the parties involved in a conflict and dispels misperceptions as each party understands the other’s true intentions. I would serve as a third party or mediator to help each party understand the hostility created by holding rigid positions and offers an acceptable solution to both parties.

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The identification of polarizations in day-to-day life is important as it allows mitigating measures to be put in place to prevent a conflict from degenerating into atrocities like a civil war. However, dimensions of polarizations such as political, religious, and ethnic polarization often evoke strong emotions making efforts to establish a common agreement difficult. In a recap, polarization arises when parties opt to take opposing sides in a conflict. Failure to reach a common agreement in a conflict escalates the conflict to a polarized state which might lead to a civil war or social strife. Proper and effective communication and interaction between rival groups contribute towards preventing the polarization of individuals.

Reference

Rubin, J., Pruitt, D., & Kim, S. (1994). Social Conflict: Escalation, Stalemate, and Settlement. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

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