SURC Presents Francesca Polletta: "Does Bridging Our Divides Require that We Become Friends First?"

Department: Humanities Center

Date and Time: February 28, 2022 | 4:00 PM-5:30 PM

Event Location: Zoom

Event Details

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Please join the Social Unity Research Cluster for a talk by Francesca Polletta, Chancellor’s Professor of Sociology, UCI.

This event is free and open to the public.



Many civic leaders and commentators agree that the solution to the deep political and social divisions that characterize our society is intimate conversation. Bringing people together in small groups to share personal stories, develop empathy for those with different experiences, and identify common ground will produce the broader solidarities that we need. In this talk, I raise questions about what has become a standard recipe for civic repair. Encouraging people to talk the way that friends do often mistakes intimacy for equality, and it discourages the negotiation and outright challenge that solidarity requires. More important, I argue that Americans routinely cooperate across difference without becoming friends first. Paying attention to how they do so, and more broadly, to Americans’ rich vocabulary for imagining the ties that bind, offers ideas for repairing our fractured civic landscape.

Francesca Polletta is Chancellor’s Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine. She studies social movements, culture, and experiments in radical democracy. She is the author or editor of four books, including, most recently, Inventing the Ties that Bind: Imagined Relationships in Moral and Political Life (Univ. Chicago, 2020).