The paradox of dialogue

Murphy, Peter (2011) The paradox of dialogue. Policy Futures in Education, 9 (1). pp. 22-28.

PDF (Accepted Version) - Accepted Version
Download (191kB)
[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


The Council of Europe's 2008 White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue signalled - with a measure of deep concern - the limits of multiculturalism and its attendant problems of identity politics, communal segregation, and the undermining of rights and freedoms in culturally closed communities. The White Paper proposed the replacement of the policy of multiculturalism with a policy of intercultural dialogue. The article in response reflects on the paradoxical nature of all discursive models of dialogue, including that of the Council of Europe, and suggests in its place a dramaturgical model of dialogue. All forms of dialogue that rely on discursive interaction run into the problem of incommensurable values, principles and ultimate authorities. From Weber and Kelsen to Castoriadis and Lyotard, this problem has been well assayed. It is not surmountable by the length, relative intensity or presumptive civility of a dialogue. Neither 'willingness to listen' nor 'open-mindedness' - let alone 'debate' and 'argument' - can solve the deep, difficult aporias of fundamental value conflicts. Nor can appeals to human rights, democracy and the rule of law, though the Council of Europe believes otherwise. We live in a world where liberal values of these kinds are routinely contested by militant pre-enlightenment communities. Dialogue can make no substantive difference to this. What then can? Historically and structurally, patrimonial cultures are only transformed under dramaturgical conditions. The article explores how the modern society of strangers mobilizes role playing, public acting, dramatic dialogism and various types of social dramaturgy (afforded especially by the anonymous theatre of its cities, markets and publics), and causes thereby the ironic incorporation or else the gradual withering-away of patrimonies, patriarchies and other kinds of pre-enlightenment communities.

Item ID: 22545
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1478-2103
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2012 21:24
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160806 Social Theory @ 50%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200204 Cultural Theory @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950407 Social Ethics @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 509
Last 12 Months: 79
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page