Behind the narrative bars : taking the perspective of the other in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict : case study with Israeli children
The aim of this thesis is twofold. First, to put forward a societal explanation to the concept of 'taking the perspective of the other'. Secondly, and based on the first, to investigate the difficulties of Israeli children to take the perspective of the Palestinians. I argue that perspective taking is mediated by social representations, power interests and ideologies, by minds shaped by particular socio-historical circumstances, to reproduce or challenge, sustain or resist the diverse realities of the conflict. Aiming to break away from previous individualistic conceptualisations of perspective taking, the theoretical perspective developed through this thesis is grounded in G.H. Mead social and ethical psychology, and eclectically draws on contemporary ideas such as dialogical epistemology, narrative, social representations, and rhetoric. While not disputing the relevance of emergent cognitive skills to the child's ability to role take, the view put forward in this thesis proposes that taking the perspective of the other is something whose nature is social and whose origin lie, in some good measure, in the interpersonal and social-ideological matrix of which the child is part. The concept of perspective taking is operationalised along two interrelated dimensions: (a) the ideological construction of the other and (b) perspective negotiating. The research comprises three empirical studies: (i) ethnography description of the Israeli (collective) self (ii) children's drawing of the other and (iii) children role-play narrative compositions. This study has shown that 'entering' the perspective of the Palestinians is impeded by the ideological comprehensions of the conflict as experienced by the Israeli children. That is to say, the ability to construct the Palestinian viewpoint is constrained by the boundaries of the Israeli representational field and discourse in relation to the conflict, and the dynamics of knowledge, affect and practices that maintain them.