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.