08:37 16th July 2021
With Donald Trump off licking his wounds after (eventually) vacating the White House and Brexit (theoretically) done, it can be tempting to think that peak polarisation is over.
Yet research - including some highlighted by this project - suggests that the labels forged in recent years remain the defining way in which we see ourselves and others, and that both in the UK and the US there is a long road to travel before polarisation is brought back under control.
Alison Goldsworthy, founder and chief executive of The Depolarization Project, tells Alfred Landecker fellow Cat Neilan that tempers in both countries have not “hugely cooled yet” and warns that tensions are likely to get worse before they get better.
Those on the losing side, in particular, have not forgotten the pain they experienced, which will be easily inflamed.
The pandemic could exacerbate those feelings as the financial consequences continue to ripple across the world.
Meanwhile, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Brexit has triggered a whole different set of hugely complicated issues that are really just starting to be felt - namely the question of independence and nationalism or unions.
“Do I think it's going to lead to outright civil war on the streets of the UK? No I do not… that is not really how things are done in the UK. Slow, incremental change is the way, but I do think hostility and tension will get worse,” she says.
“But history suggests it will get better - it will just take a while.”
Goldworthy, whose book Poles Apart is due out later this year, tells Making Common Ground that she believes all this will keep polarisation at “pernicious” levels for some time.
But she has some suggestions for how each of us can try to engage with people on the other side of the political spectrum and how those who are looking to facilitate this can help.
Listen to the interview in full below.