Daniel Stanley at The Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley:
However difficult it is to properly gauge the significance of historical events while still living through them, we can surely already state with confidence that the Covid pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine together constitute a truly seismic and transformative sequence of years for the world.
The debate continues on what exactly we can learn today from prior such tumultuous times, but one repeated feature of periods of crisis, already becoming apparent in this contemporary experience, is how they call into question the previously dominant concepts and terms used to diagnose social challenges, and explain the malfunctioning workings of our societies. ‘Polarisation’ – as a way of describing an observed increase in division, extreme views and hostility – is just one such concept in need of re-evaluation.
Of course, like any such general term, ‘polarisation’ has a whole range of usages and meanings, varying in scope and focus. In this case, ranging from a simple dynamic in individual group interactions, to a wider trend within political systems at a national level.