Power in History: Contrasting Theoretical Approaches to Intergroup Dialogue
Abstract© 2015 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Groups in conflict routinely use historical narrative to compete for status in intergroup encounters. This study examines power dynamics in conversations about history facilitated according to distinct social psychological theories. Israeli and Palestinian youth participating in an existing intergroup contact program were randomly assigned to either a (1) coexistence condition consistent with a prejudice reduction model in which the goal was to foster the construction of a common in-group identity, or (2) a confrontational condition consistent with a collective action model in which the goal was to raise awareness about identities and empower the low-status group. Dialogue facilitated in the coexistence condition reproduced power asymmetries, with a pattern of Jewish Israeli dominance. Dialogue facilitated in the confrontational condition suggested a pattern of Palestinian dominance, consistent with a collective action model. Findings are discussed in terms of theoretical approaches to intergroup contact and dialogue about history among groups in intractable conflict.