Understanding the Interface of Diversity and Political Tensions in the Context of Divided Societies: A Multifocal Perspective of Social Psychology and Critical Theory



This chapter juxtaposes and interfaces social psychological conceptual frameworks and critical sociological theories. The essentialist school of thought focuses on universal individual- and group-level limitations in processing the social world. By contrast, the critical theory underscores the construction of intergroup power relations, controlled through discourse by dominant social actors. These social construction processes privilege the dominant social forces, while marginalising other social players. Unlike the essentialist tradition, the critical approach emphasises the influence of the specific context of everyday practice on the development of social relations. This chapter opens a dialogue between the two perspectives in an attempt to enlist their joint potential for illuminating diversity management in places and times of tensions.


Diversity Political tensions Social psychology Essentialist approach Critical approach Divided society 


  1. Ali, A. (2019). The quest-(ion) for diversity. Journal of Human Values, 25(1), 41–51. Scholar
  2. Alon, I., & Bar-Tal, D. (Eds.). (2016). The role of trust in conflict resolution: The Israeli-Palestinian case and beyond. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
  3. Bar-Tal, D. (Ed.). (2011). Intergroup conflicts and their resolution: A social psychological perspective. New York: Psychology Press.
  4. Becker, J. C., Kraus, M. W., & Rheinschmidt-Same, M. (2017). Cultural expressions of social class and their implications for group-related beliefs and behaviors. Journal of Social Issues, 73(1), 158–174. Scholar
  5. Bekerman, Z. (2018). Working towards peace through education: The case of Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, 6(1), 75–98. Retrieved from
  6. Boxenbaum, E., & Rouleau, L. (2011). New knowledge products as bricolage: Metaphors and scripts in organizational theory. The Academy of Management Review, 36(2), 272–296.Google Scholar
  7. Braedel-Kühner, C., & Müller, A. P. (Eds.). (2015). Re-thinking diversity: Multiple approaches in theory, media, communities, and managerial practice. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.Google Scholar
  8. Calás, M. B., Ou, H., & Smircich, L. (2013). “Woman” on the move: Mobile subjectivities after intersectionality. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 32(8), 708–731. Scholar
  9. Dawkins, C. E., & Barker, J. R. (2018). A complexity theory framework of issue movement. Business & Society, 1–41.
  10. Derrida, J. (2000). Le toucher, Jean-Luc Nancy. Paris: Galilée.Google Scholar
  11. Desivilya, H., & Raz, M. (2015). Managing diversity and social divisions in nurses’ work teams. EuroMed Journal of Business, 10(2), 264–278. Scholar
  12. Desivilya Syna, H. (2015). Social divisions, intergroup conflict and diversity—Reflections about social conflict and diversity: The case of Israeli organizations. In C. Braedel-Kühner & A. P. Müller (Eds.), Re‐thinking diversity: Multiple approaches in theory, media, communities, and managerial practice (pp. 55–83). Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
  13. Desivilya Syna, H. (2016). Covert aspects of Conditional citizenship: A social psychological perspective combined with the constructivist approach. In S. Ozacky-Lazar & Y. Jabareen (Eds.), Conditional citizenship, on citizenship, equality and offensive legislation (pp. 273–296). Haifa: Pardes publishing (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  14. Desivilya Syna, H., Arieli, D., & Raz-Rotem, M. (n.d.). What can academics tell us about their precarious encounters with the ‘elephant in the room’: Engaging diversity with/and political tensions in academic institution. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  15. Desivilya Syna, H., & Rottman, A. (2012). The role of power asymmetry sensitivity in Jewish Arab partnerships. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 30(2), 219–241. Scholar
  16. Desivilya, H., Rottman, A., & Raz, M. (2012). Improving organizational integrity through humanistic diversity management: The case of minority-majority relations in healthcare organizations and academic institutions. In A. Stachowicz-Stanusch & W. Amann (Eds.), Business integrity in practice: Insights from international case studies (pp. 205–235). New York: Business Expert Press.Google Scholar
  17. Desivilya Syna, H., Shamir, M., & Shamir-Balderman, O. (2015). Nurses-managers’ acts in organizational conflict spectacles: The challenges of public sector management in the era of globalization. In D. Vrontis, E. Tsoukatos, & A. Maizza (Eds.), Innovative management perspectives on confronting contemporary challenges (pp. 129–149). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar
  18. Desivilya Syna, H., Yassour-Borochowitz, D., Bouknik, S., Kalovsky, G., Lavy, I., & Ore, L. (2017). Engaging diversity at academia: Manifold voices of faculty. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 36(1), 90–104.
  19. Dhanani, L. Y., Beus, J. M., & Joseph, D. L. (2018). Workplace discrimination: A meta-analytic extension, critique, and future research agenda. Personnel Psychology, 71(2), 147–179. Scholar
  20. Dixon, J. A., & Durrheim, K. (2003). Contact and the ecology of racial division: Some varieties of informal segregation. British Journal of Social Psychology, 42(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dixon, J., Durrheim, K., & Tredoux, C. (2005). Beyond the optimal strategy: A reality check for the contact hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60(7), 697–711. Scholar
  22. Durrheim, K., & Dixon, J. (2004). Attitudes in the fiber of everyday life: The discourse of racial evaluation and the lived experience of desegregation. American Psychologist, 59(7), 626–636. Scholar
  23. Follett, M. P. (2018). The new state-group organization, the solution of popular government. New York: Longmans, Green and Co.Google Scholar
  24. Foucault, M. (1994). The order of things: An archeology of human sciences. New York: Penguin Random House.Google Scholar
  25. Fuller, B. (2011). Power, adaptive preferences, and negotiation: Process specifics matters. Planning Theory and Practice, 12(3), 455–461.
  26. Gadlin, H. (1994). Conflict resolution, cultural differences, and the culture of racism. Negotiation Journal, 10(1), 33–47. Scholar
  27. Geiger, K. A., & Jordan, C. (2014). The role of societal privilege in the definitions and practices of inclusion. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, 33(3), 261–274. Scholar
  28. Hargie, O., Dickson, D., & Nelson, S. (2003). Working together in a divided society: A study of intergroup communication in the Northern Ireland workplace. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 17(3), 285–318. Scholar
  29. Hargrave, T. J., & Van de Ven, A. H. (2016). Integrating dialectical and paradox perspectives on managing contradictions in organizations. Organization Studies, 38(3–4), 319–339. Scholar
  30. Harrison, D. A., & Klein, K. J. (2007). What’s the difference? Diversity constructs as separation, variety, or disparity in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1199–1228. Scholar
  31. Holck, L., Muhr, S. L., & Villesèche, F. (2016). Identity, diversity and diversity management: On theoretical connections, assumptions and implications for practice. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 35(1), 48–64. Scholar
  32. Jabareen, Y. (2016). Deepening the exclusion: On the proposal “Basic Law of Israel—State, the Nation of the Jewish People”. In S. Ozacky-Lazar & Y. Jabareen (Eds.), Conditional citizenship, on citizenship, equality and offensive legislation (pp. 145–163). Haifa: Pardes Publishing (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  33. Janssens, M., & Zanoni, P. (2014). Alternative diversity management: Organizational practices fostering ethnic equality at work. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 30(3), 317–331. Scholar
  34. Jones, S. M. (2014). Diversity leadership under race-neutral policies in higher education. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, 33(8), 708–720. Scholar
  35. Knights, D., & Omanović, V. (2016). (Mis)managing diversity: Exploring the dangers of diversity management orthodoxy. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, 35(1), 5–16. Scholar
  36. Kolb, D. M. (2004). Staying in the game or changing it: An analysis of moves and turns in negotiation. Negotiation Journal, 20(2), 253–268.
  37. Kolb, D. M. (2008). Making sense of an elusive phenomenon. In C. K. W. De Dreu & M. J. Gelfand (Eds.), The psychology of conflict and conflict management in organizations (pp. 425–433). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  38. Kolb, D. M., & Bartunek, J. (Eds.). (1992). Hidden conflict in organizations: Uncovering behind-the-scenes disputes. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  39. Kolb, D., & Mcginn, K. (2009). Beyond gender and negotiation to gendered negotiations. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 2(1), 1–16. Scholar
  40. Kolb, D. M., & Putnam, L. L. (1992). The multiple faces of conflict in organizations. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 13(3), 311–324. Retrieved from
  41. Kristeva, J. (1991). Strangers to ourselves? New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Lau, D. C., & Murnighan, J. K. (1998). Demographic diversity and faultlines: The compositional dynamics of organizational groups. Academy of Management Review, 23(3), 325–340. Scholar
  43. Li, M., & Sadler, J. (2011). Power and influence in negotiation. In M. Benoliel (Ed.), Negotiation excellence: Successful deal making (pp. 139–160). Singapore: World Scientific Publishing.Google Scholar
  44. Maoz, I. (2011). Does contact work in protracted asymmetrical conflict? Appraising 20 years of reconciliation-aimed encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Journal of Peace Research, 48(1), 115–125. Scholar
  45. Mikkelsen, E. N., & Clegg, S. (2018). Unpacking the meaning of conflict in organizational conflict research. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 11(3), 185–203. Scholar
  46. Mohammed, S., & Angell, L. C. (2004). Surface-and deep-level diversity in workgroups: Examining the moderating effects of team orientation and team process on relationship conflict. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25(8), 1015–1039. Scholar
  47. Müller, J. W. (2016). What is populism? Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  48. Mutsaers, P., & Trux, M.-L. (2015). In search of “the real”: The subversive potential of ethnography in the field of diversity management. In R. Bendl, I. Bleijenbergh, E. Henttonen, & A. Mills (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of diversity in organizations (pp. 317–336). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Ozacky-Lazar, S., & Jabareen, Y. (2016). Conditional citizenship, on citizenship, equality and offensive legislation. Haifa: Pardes Publishing.Google Scholar
  50. Peled, Y. (2016). Citizenship of minorities in ethnic democracy: Jewish civilians in the Second Polish Republic (1918–1939), Catholic citizens of Northern Ireland (1921–1972) and Palestinian civilians in Israel. In S. Ozacky-Lazar & Y. Jabareen (Eds.), Conditional citizenship, on citizenship, equality and offensive legislation (pp. 411–436). Haifa: Pardes Publishing (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  51. Putnam, L. (2010). Negotiation and discourse analysis. Negotiation Journal, 26(2), 145–154. Retrieved from
  52. Raz-Rotem, M., Desivilya Syna, H., & Maoz, I. (2019). Working together in the context of protracted asymmetric conflict: Israeli Jews and Palestinians in joint medical work team. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology. Advance online publication.
  53. Schmid, K., Tausch, N., Hewstone, M., Hughes, J., & Cairns, E. (2008). The effects of living in segregated vs. mixed areas in Northern Ireland: A simultaneous analysis of contact and threat effects in the context of micro-level neighborhoods. International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 2(1), 56–71.Google Scholar
  54. Shotter, J., & Tsoukas, H. (2014). Performing phronesis: On the way to engaged judgment. Management Learning, 45(4), 377–396. Scholar
  55. Syna Desivilya, H. (1998). Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel: The role of joint professional teams. Journal of Peace Research, 35(4), 429–452. Scholar
  56. Syna Desivilya, H. (2004). Promoting coexistence by means of conflict education: The MACBE model. Journal of Social Issues, 60(2), 339–355. Scholar
  57. Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In W. G. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.), The psychology of inter-group relations (pp. 7–24). Chicago: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
  58. Van Knippenberg, D., Dawson, J. F., West, M. A., & Homan, A. C. (2011). Diversity, faultlines, shared objectives, and top management team performance. Human Relations, 64(3), 307–336. Scholar
  59. Weill, S. (2011). Reframing the legality of Israeli Military Courts—Military occupation or apartheid? In A. Baker & A. Matar (Eds.), Threat—Palestinian political prisoners in Israel (pp. 136–148). London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  60. Weill, S. (2016). From a Jewish and democratic occupy state to apartheid: The contribution of The High Court of Justice. In S. Ozacky-Lazar & Y. Jabareen (Eds.), Conditional citizenship, on citizenship, equality and offensive legislation (pp. 65–91). Haifa: Pardes Publishing (in Hebrew).Google Scholar
  61. Zanoni, P. (2011). Diversity in the lean automobile factory: Doing class through gender, disability and age. Organization, 18(1), 105–127. Scholar
  62. Zanoni, P., Janssens, M., Benschop, Y., & Nkomo, S. M. (2010). Unpacking diversity, grasping inequality: Rethinking difference through critical perspectives. Organization, 17(1), 9–29. Scholar
  63. Zoher, S. (2016). ‘Doctrine of enemy subjects’ and the Palestinians in Israel. In S. Ozacky-Lazar & Y. Jabareen (Eds.), Conditional citizenship, on citizenship, equality and offensive legislation (pp. 123–143). Haifa: Pardes Publishing (in Hebrew).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Max Stern Yezreel Valley CollegeYezreel ValleyIsrael

Personalised recommendations