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Davide Livermore: Digital, Diverse and Divided


David Livermore

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Kelly connects with social scientist David Livermore to discuss his new book: “Digital, Diverse and Divided: How to Talk to Racists, Compete with Robots and Overcome Polarization.”

You introduce us to Dorothy Holland and her concept of figured worlds. Can you talk to us about that?

“Yeah, so she's done some great research on saying we're all a part of many figured worlds that really shaped the way that we view reality. Of course, the most powerful figured world that most of us inherit are the biological families into which we were born or our adoptive families. But then we keep taking on these other figured worlds. I think with culture we immediately think of race, ethnicity, international, but the artist community - there's a figure world of the artist community that shapes how you view the world as artists.”

Her concept really made me think about the group improvisation that we’re all doing and if all of us were focused on making the other person look good, the world would be a better place.

“Yeah, and that's what I really like about Hollins’ figured world notion is it links well to your more pragmatic improvisational approach that says, you know I'm not a cultural determinist that says, well, I was born into this family, so this is the way I must think and believe. We all have agency to improvise. I love your view on it, that improvisation is oriented toward the other, rather than just what do I want to do to be true to myself.”

I talk about this all the time now, this idea that ultimately, we don’t do this alone. The human experiment will only work if we do it together.

“That's one of the things that I'm really passionate about as we apply cultural intelligence to these issues of polarization: calling in rather than calling out. And I guess that's the same thing if you're going to be called in, it is going to be uncomfortable. It's not that we're just going to be like, oh just treat me gently.  You know, I guess it comes back to my having grown up in fundamentalism, shame wasn't a lasting motivator for me, believe me, I heard it every Sunday. But at the end of the day, shame wasn't what compelled me to do something that we can actually do together to make the world a better place. Ultimately, I became willing to kind of look at some of the adjustments and compromises I needed to make.”

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