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Abstract

We argue that dispute resolution processes should not be seen as a substitute for the political process, but rather a complement that can help strengthen it. Based on this view, and on the authors’ experience with dialogue work in the former Yugoslavia, as well as in urban and rural settings in the United States, we argue that transformative processes, specifically an approach we call Transformative Dialogue, are best suited to addressing the challenges of political polarization both in the United States and internationally. This is because the primary goal of transformative processes is not to reach agreement or find common ground, but rather to change the quality of conflict interactions from negative and destructive to positive and constructive. Transformative dialogue is about helping people gain their voice and choose identities and interactions that otherwise would be closed to them.

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