Bringing context and power relations to the fore: Intergroup dialogue as a tool in social work education

Yochay Nadan, Galia Weinberg-Kurnik, Adital Ben-Ari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this research was to examine the unique contribution of intergroup dialogue encounters, held in an international context, to multicultural social work education. We conducted a qualitative study based on fifteen in-depth interviews with Israeli social work students who had participated in a German-Israeli intergroup encounter. The analysis yielded two main themes: a movement between different viewpoints, and a reflection on categories of difference and collective narratives. Our findings indicate that intergroup encounter fosters critical reflectivity on two main interwoven constructs that are especially relevant to multicultural social work education - contextuality and power relations. This is achieved through four dynamic processes in intergroup encounter: shifting from deductive to inductive reasoning, from an essentialist to a constructivist perception, from focusing on the 'other' to inquiring about ourselves, and experiencing intersectionality. International intergroup encounters can therefore contribute to professional efforts to educate critical, reflective and socially committed practitioners, and can help to meet the challenges of working in contemporary societies characterised by growing diversity, intergroup tensions, ethnic and political conflicts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-277
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.


  • Intergroup dialogue
  • diversity training
  • intergroup encounter
  • multicultural education
  • social work education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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