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State of Democracy in South Asia Study
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The dialogue component of the SDSA study was planned to supplement the data produced by the cross sectional survey, case study and qualitative assessment components. Dialogues were specifically chosen because of the belief that there exists, in a particular social and political domain, a pluralism of knowledge universes that should be recognized and recovered. Because of the way in which it is structured, and the attention given to ensuring the participation of varied interests, the dialogue is a valuable way of recovering this diversity of voices.

It is important at this point to distinguish the dialogue method advocated here from the dialogue method used in situations of conflict to achieve reconciliation. While both have as their goal the promotion of understanding the latter seeks through this understanding to establish a consensus between the dialogue partners, to build trust between the parties in conflict, and thereby to develop a shared sense of purpose. The unstated assumption here is that the differences that we encounter are differences based on a misunderstanding of each other’s position, as a result of limited knowledge of the other’s views, and that once this is overcome, and understanding achieved, these differences would disappear. In contrast, to this position of the possibility of consensus, the assumption in our dialogue is the recognition of the essential plurality of knowledge universes and the further recognition that such plurality may be incommensurable. It is to appreciate this pluralism, and to incorporate it into our narration, that the dialogue as an instrument is here recommended.

 
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