September 21-23, 2017 • Dartmouth College • Hanover, NH
The United States is diversifying at an unprecedented rate, changing the face of everyday interactions in our communities. Demographic diversity does not, on its own, enable us to live cohesively and equitably with our neighbors. In the absence of true integration and community, simply living together can reinforce inequalities rather than helping us to overcome them. If we truly care about mitigating the roots of inequality as the United States and our communities continue to diversify, it is imperative that we understand how to build and sustain cohesive interaction across difference.
In studying these issues, sociologists often focus on the problems of inequality, instead of envisioning their resolution – identifying steps that could be taken to strengthen communities by building trust, commitment, and solidarity. We ask: How can we apply knowledge about interaction processes in small groups and networks to facilitate positive interactions in diversifying communities, and isolate points of inflection for social change? We hope that Interacting Across Difference will help identify theoretically grounded, empirically supported answers to this question.
This conference will bring together distinguished scholars from two subfields that seldom exchange ideas – urban and community studies and social psychology – to present and discuss their research related to interaction across racial and ethnic difference. Urban and community scholars have documented changes and identified challenges to social cohesion resulting from increasing racial and ethnic diversity, but lack a deeper understanding of the small group processes that may facilitate solidarity. Social psychologists have identified the conditions that foster cooperation, justice, trust and commitment in interactions and small groups, but rarely apply their theoretical insights outside of the lab. We hope that the conference will offer new insights into the social interventions and policies that will most help build community and reduce inequality in diverse neighborhoods.
This event is sponsored by the following groups at Dartmouth College: the Department of Sociology, the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, the Offices of the President, Provost, Dean of Faculty, and Dean of the College, South House, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, and the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning.