Living Room 3: Understanding Disconnection and Polarisation

How we all live together is becoming one of the defining challenges of the 21st century. In a world which can feel increasingly polarised and divided this rolling series of three linked one-hour online seminars will explore a particular theme from a range of different perspectives. It will examine how local leaders and places have developed innovative, creative approaches to some of the key challenges they face to increasing integration and cohesion locally.

Aimed at those who are leading on programmes of work where integration and cohesion are key considerations these will be forums for peer learning and sharing good practice across different sectors and localities.

Living Room Living Room 3 will focus on understanding disconnection and polarisation.

An understanding of the research, evidence and theory behind cohesion and integration work is vital to delivering impactful policy and projects. However, finding the time to develop our knowledge, and knowing where to look for such bodies of work, can be challenging. In this series of one-hour webinars three academics explain different frameworks and approaches for understanding disconnection and polarisation. In this difficult and uncertain time, this webinar series will help place the practical work you deliver during your normal day-today in the wider research context. These webinars will help place the practical work you deliver in the wider research context. The series will also support you to deliver impactful, evidence-based work in the future.

Session One: building cohesive societies in a changing world

Dominic Abrams is Professor of Social Psychology and the Director of the Centre for the Study of Group Processes in the School of Psychology at the University of Kent. His research examines all aspects of relations between different social groups and the behaviour of groups in general.Dominic is also Vice-President for Social Sciences at the British Academy.During this webinar, Dominic will discuss the British Academy’s programme of work on Cohesive Societies. This cross-cutting programme draws on academic and policy expertise to answer questions about how societies can remain cohesive in the face of rapid political, social, economic and technological change.

Speaker: Professor Dominic Abrams, University of Kent

Wednesday 13th May 1300 – 1400


Session Two: the perils of perception

Bobby Duffy is the Director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London and was formerly Managing Director of Public Affairs for Ipsos MORI. In this webinar, Bobby will discuss the work he has done on ‘The Perils of Perception –why we’re wrong about nearly everything’ which draws on a set of global studies on how people misperceive key social realities. He will explore the gap between people’s perceptions and reality to help us understand how extreme and incorrect views can emerge which fuel disconnection and polarisation.

Speaker: Professor Bobby Duffy, King’s College London

Wednesday 20th May 1230 – 1330


Session Three: an ethnographic case study on linking with left behind communities

Professor Hilary Pilkington is Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester and author of ‘Loud and Proud: Passion and Politics in the English Defence League’. Hilary has been working for a number of years with people who become active in a range of movements and groups that are referred to as ‘the far right’. In this webinar, she will explore the importance of understanding the spectrum of views and people involved in such groups in order to work effectively with ‘left behind’ communities.She will explore how her findings can support practitioners and policy makers in overcoming some of the most challenging community tensions in local areas.

Speaker: Professor Hilary Pilkington, University of Manchester

Wednesday 27th May 1300 – 1400


Chatham House rules will apply. Standard and Advanced Belong members can sign up to the series for free as part of their membership package and will be given priority. As part of Belong’s offer to members during the current crisis, Associate Members will also be able to sign-up for free to the webinar series at a later date. It is not possible to purchase tickets for individual webinars. Deadline for series sign up is 1st May 2020.