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Learning to think differently: Diversity training and the ‘good encounter’

Wilson, Helen F.



At a time of ongoing economic and social insecurity the capacity to live with difference is under renewed strain. In this context, community outreach organisations and projects of intervention that deal with diversity-related tensions are essential. This paper provides an empirical account of a diversity workshop run by an international organisation that aims to cultivate more peaceful modes of coexistence through attention to the everyday formation of prejudice. The paper has two key concerns. The first is to attend to the techniques employed to facilitate encounters with difference and to unpack the constructions of prejudiced thought. In the context of growing debates around the possibilities and challenges of coordinated contact, the paper engages with work that has articulated alternative ways of responding to difference through an attention to practices of embodied thought. The second concern focuses upon the conditions that make new ways of thinking possible and argues that in order to understand how such organisations might affect positive change, it is vital to understand how such workshops take-place. The paper therefore attends to the role of memory, habit and the working of particular affects such as shame, to open up a discussion about the ways in which workshop exercises might resonate beyond training events. The paper concludes with some reflections upon the implications for policies concerned with behavioural change in the context of developing relations across difference.


Wilson, H. F. (2013). Learning to think differently: Diversity training and the ‘good encounter’. Geoforum, 45, 73-82.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Dec 1, 2012
Publication Date 2013-03
Deposit Date Sep 14, 2017
Journal Geoforum
Print ISSN 0016-7185
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Pages 73-82

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