An analysis of the group process in encounters between Jews and Palestinians using a typology for discourse classification

Shoshana Steinberg, Dan Bar-On

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


This paper presents an analysis of the group process in encounters between Jewish and Palestinian Israeli citizens by using a typology for discourse classification. The typology presented here is a sensitive research tool that was developed in the absence of existing instruments, which analyze the developmental process of discourse in groups. It is an instrument that can help in conceptualizing and analyzing the process occuring in face-to-face encounters between representatives of groups in conflict. Inter-group encounters are seen as a developmental process. In this paper, development is defined as changes in the quality of discourse, progressing on a scale from the lowest point "ethnocentric talk", to the highest point "dialogic moment". Progress is transition from discourse based on stereotypes, not listening to the other, and perceiving the other as an object for persuasion to dialogue characterized by equality, listening, trying to understand reality from the other's point of view, and a joint effort in construction of meaning. The study is based on the assumption that change in the quality of discourse is a sign of a cognitive and affective change in the way one perceives the "other", the "self" and "truth", which enables the parties to engage in dialogue and achieve understanding. The categories, which distinguish among types of discourse, grew out of text analysis based on the Hermeneutic Case Reconstruction method (The narrative study of lives. Sage 1(1) (1993) 59). The article demonstrates the use of this typology in analyzing examples from the discourse, which took place over the course of 1 yr at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. It is important to note that since the emphasis is on content and its meanings, this kind of analysis poses the question of subjectivity of the researcher's perspective. As Jewish Israeli researchers, we were aware of possible bias in our interpretations due to being more sensitive to one group's point of view. In order to allow for multiple perspectives, the raw data was presented to two Palestinian Israeli researchers. The Palestinian researchers provided additional viewpoints and interpretations that were integrated in the analysis of the group discourse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-214
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2002


  • Asymmetry of power
  • Dialogic moment
  • Discourse classification
  • Ethnocentric
  • Group process analysis
  • Palestinian-Jewish encounters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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