Discussion of “Civic Virus: Why Polarization is a Misdiagnosis”

March 29th: 4:30 pm - 5:45 pm @ Zoom Webinar

The Center for Politics and the People (CPP) is hosting a ZOOM conversation on March 29th from 4:30 to 5:45 PM with Rich Harwood, executive director of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation. He has devoted his career to revitalizing the nation’s hardest-hit communities, transforming the world’s largest organizations and reconnecting institutions like newsrooms and schools to society.

He will discuss the findings of his recent report, “Civic Virus: Why Polarization is a Misdiagnosis.” Based on 16 in-depth focus groups from various parts of the country the report concludes that people are separating and segregating themselves from one another due to unrelenting fear and anxiety about what’s happening around them and to them.

People in the focus groups said with absolute clarity that polarization is being spread by leaders, the news media, and in social media. Participants indicated, however, that ideological polarization is not the problem, but a symptom of something deeper. Divisions in the country are intrinsically about social and psychological conditions – such as fear, anxiety, and a lack of empathy and belonging. The study also makes recommendations on how to reduce this isolation and anxiety by creating local networks of communication across dividing lines among citizens of different social and ethnic backgrounds.


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