showing two contrary directions and tendencies. In political speech, the term has come to refer to the process by which two sides in a dispute or a political issue move steadily further apart so that no rational solution or dialogue seems possible. One could say for example that American politics today is undergoing a sharp polarization due in part to the divisive and shrill tone of much public debate. When one side makes a provocative or extreme point, the other side finds itself responding in kind in order to be heard, so a polarization is set in motion.
Polarization of a conflict occurs as a conflict rises in intensity (that is, escalates). Often as escalation occurs, more and more people get involved, and take strong positions either on one side or the other. "Polarization" refers to this process in which people move toward extreme positions ("poles"), leaving fewer and fewer people "in the middle."
Polarization of a conflict occurs when the conflict rises in intensity (i.e. escalates). When escalation occurs, often more and more people become involved in the conflict and take strong positions on one side or the other. Polarization refers to this process, in which people move towards extreme positions ("poles"), leaving fewer and fewer people "in the middle" (Conflict Research Consortium, 1998).