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Collaborative Inquiry as Social - page 4 / 16





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I want to quote in full an incident Traylen describes as an example of what it is like to ‘hold the anxiety’ at the edge of chaos and, as a consequence, the liberating movement towards a new order

‘Just when we were feeling so confident the group was thrown into confusion, uncertainty and depression.  In a way we had been deceiving ourselves that we were doing all right: this discussion stopped us in our tracks. Everyone knew intuitively the group had to address this more fundamental issue about our practice. We were swamped by the enormity of the task and scared about whether we would be able to make sense of it all….. All I could hang on to at this stage was the thought that if the group could hold this chaos for long enough perhaps something would emerge. We agreed to do some thinking and writing before we next met.

At the second reflection session we spent quite a lot of time dealing with how badly we felt after the last session, dealing with feelings about adequacy, competence and articulation. Despite these feelings each of the group had done some thinking or wiring as agreed…..

……after lengthy discussion the group experienced a breakthrough. We had struggled with this idea about health and we asked ourselves: “What does this mean to the families we visit?”. Gradually we began to talk about the idea of health as being a sense of  “well being”. The role of the health visitor was to help families maintain an equilibrium and quality of life which attributed to this sense of well being….

……A new cycle of research began to be formulated around the idea of how we could communicate this health visitors’ aim of “well  being” (Traylen 1994: 76-77)

I am sure many of us can identify with this kind of situation which is reminiscent of stages  described by Scott Peck as necessary to the creation of a ‘community’ which, by necessity has got to beyond the ‘politeness’ of reinforcing the norms to what he described as a stage of confusion and then ‘silence’ from which a new community could be created.    (Peck 1988). The ‘creation’ of a new order brings us to ‘social construction’

The Social Construction of Organisations

In linking ‘social construction’ with ‘organisations’ I have to declare the perspective I am coming from which is not from the disciplines of the social sciences and sociology in  which the concept originated (Berger & Luckermann; Weick 1979; Gergen 1982). My background has been in Human Resource Development and Organisation Change and Development. For many years my guide in attempting to teach organisation theory and development has been Gareth Morgan’s Images of Organisation (Morgan1986). What distinguishes this book from others on organisation and

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