Social identity refers to the part of self-concept you get from belonging to different social groups and can be used to explain intergroup behavior. We feel unique and complex as individuals, yet our group, social identities often lead to comparison, judgment, and avoidance of other groups. Apparent or assumed differences can be emphasized and overemphasized creating barriers to understanding and relationship with other perceived groups. This conversation is designed to explore our own social identities and the ways belonging to speciﬁc groups can inﬂuence interaction between people and affect divides in our society.
Let's Get Started!
Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate.
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
Social Identity (~40 min)
One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk.
- Which groups form your social identity? Which do you identify most with?
- Which groups have you joined by choice and to what groups you are ascribed by other people or society at large? How does this impact your self-concept?
- When have you beneﬁted from belonging to a certain social group? When has it been a challenge for you?
- How does comparison of the groups that form your social identity with other groups help you feel more positive or negative about yourself?
- Which groups do you ﬁnd yourself making assumptions or judgments about? Why do you think that is? Which groups do you wish you could understand more?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
- What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
- Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
- Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?