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Article
Publication date: 3 November 2014

S. D. Noam Cook

The purpose of this paper is to offer some reflections on “making distinctions”, which in contrast to “separating”, the author views as unifying rather than dividing. The…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to offer some reflections on “making distinctions”, which in contrast to “separating”, the author views as unifying rather than dividing. The author remarks follow the theme of the conference, “Acting-Learning-Understanding”, and characterise making distinctions as inherently cybernetic both conceptually and in practice. The classic cybernetic principle of error detection and correction, for example, typically has a lopsided focus on “error”. The author treats it as the on-going single act of distinguishing between “error” and “correct”, where to determine the degree to which a system is in error is simultaneously to determine the degree to which it is correct.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents a viewpoint though conceptual analysis, reflection, and critique, drawing on examples form the research (employing ethnography, case studies, observation, and participant observation) and consulting.

Findings

In practice we detect “correct” no less than “error”. Learning entails both “error” and “correct”. Although commonly held that we learn best (or only) from error, the author argues sometimes we can best (or only) learn from what goes right. Acting entails knowing. This calls for distinguishing between knowledge, as a storable, transferable “thing”, and knowing as part of shared practice. Understanding entails evaluating. Distinguishing between morally acceptable and unacceptable, for example, can set, confirm, or change norms for distinguishing “error” and “correct”. Accordingly, evaluating needs to be a deliberate part of cybernetic and systems thinking and practice.

Research limitations/implications

Presents four areas where further research could fruitfully be pursued: assessing the distinct function of “correct” within various kinds of systems; designing and testing educational and organizational activities for learning from what goes right; designing and testing organizational and technological infrastructures that support “knowing” as coordinated designed activity; and, designing and testing means for the deliberate incorporation of evaluating as part of systems thinking and practice.

Practical implications

Suggests that educational and organizational activities could be more productive by fostering learning from what goes right. Suggests there is value in the development of organizational and technological infrastructures that support “knowing” as coordinated designed activity (vs “knowledge” seen as a storable, transferable “thing”). Suggests that the deliberate inclusion of evaluating in social and organizational systems could further more responsive and responsible action.

Social implications

Contributes to a call for publicly viable forms of cybernetic and systemic thinking and practice, including the systemic inclusion of evaluation in public affairs.

Originality/value

Contributes to the conceptual development and constructive critique of key concepts in cybernetic and systems thinking and practice, especially understanding making distinctions as unifying rather than separating, and as inherently cybernetic as such. Offers a critique of the common focus on “error” in error detection and correction. Argues for the importance of learning from what goes right. Identifies the need for a better understanding of “knowing” as part of practice (as distinct from “knowledge” as a storable, sharable “thing”). Argues for the need to treat evaluation as an inherent, necessary, and productive part of systems thinking and practice.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 43 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 3 November 2014

Special Issue

Abstract

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 43 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Book part
Publication date: 27 August 2014

Amalya L. Oliver and Noam Frank

Israel, characterized by various knowledge-intensive entrepreneurial firms, provides an interesting case study for examining sector-based differences and “small country”…

Abstract

Israel, characterized by various knowledge-intensive entrepreneurial firms, provides an interesting case study for examining sector-based differences and “small country” regional patterns. This chapter has a dual goal of exploring sector and regional differences of knowledge-intensive firms in Israel. The first goal is to depict similarities and differences between firms in three knowledge-intensive sectors: Life Sciences, information technology, and Cleantech. The second goal questions whether the geographical distribution of these firms across regions is associated with different levels of knowledge concentration and organizational homogeneity. Regional and sector-based differences were measured by firm-level network structures, funding patterns, and innovation proxies. One way analysis of variance tests were conducted for attaining these research goals. The main findings show that while most regions exhibit similar patterns of firm and network characteristics, many differences exist on the sector level that are associated with sector-specific attributes. These findings support the notion of a “small country inter-regional homogeneity effect.”

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Understanding the Relationship Between Networks and Technology, Creativity and Innovation
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-489-3

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Book part
Publication date: 9 May 2011

Antony J. Puddephatt

G. H. Mead's social, developmental, and emergent conception of language and mind is a foundational assumption that is central to the interactionist tradition. However, the…

Abstract

G. H. Mead's social, developmental, and emergent conception of language and mind is a foundational assumption that is central to the interactionist tradition. However, the validity of this model has been challenged in recent years by theorists such as Albert Bergesen, who argues that recent advances in linguistics and cognitive psychology demonstrate that Mead's social theory of language learning and his theory of the social nature of mind are untenable. In light of these critiques, and drawing on Chomsky's debates with intellectuals such as Jean Piaget, John Searle, and Michael Tomasello, this chapter compares Chomsky's and Mead's theories of language and mind in terms of their assumptions about innateness and the nature and source of meaning. This comparison aims to address the major strengths and weaknesses in both models and shed light on how interactionists might frame these conceptual challenges in future theoretical and empirical research.

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Blue Ribbon Papers: Interactionism: The Emerging Landscape
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-796-4

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1983

R.G.B. Fyffe

This book is a policy proposal aimed at the democratic left. It is concerned with gradual but radical reform of the socio‐economic system. An integrated policy of…

Abstract

This book is a policy proposal aimed at the democratic left. It is concerned with gradual but radical reform of the socio‐economic system. An integrated policy of industrial and economic democracy, which centres around the establishment of a new sector of employee‐controlled enterprises, is presented. The proposal would retain the mix‐ed economy, but transform it into a much better “mixture”, with increased employee‐power in all sectors. While there is much of enduring value in our liberal western way of life, gross inequalities of wealth and power persist in our society.

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International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 3 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Book part
Publication date: 11 June 2014

This chapter is about the modern, Western education system as an economic system of production on behalf of the capitalist mode of production (CMP) and globalization…

Abstract

This chapter is about the modern, Western education system as an economic system of production on behalf of the capitalist mode of production (CMP) and globalization towards a single, global social space around market capitalism, liberal democracy and individualism.

The schooling process is above all an economic process, within which educational labour is performed, and through which the education system operates in an integrated fashion with the (external) economic system.

It is mainly through children’s compulsory educational labour that modern schooling plays a part in the production of labour power, supplies productive (paid) employment within the CMP, meets ‘corporate economic imperatives’, supports ‘the expansion of global corporate power’ and facilitates globalization.

What children receive in exchange for their appropriated and consumed labour power within the education system are not payments of the kind enjoyed by adults in the external economy, but instead merely a promise – the promise enshrined in the Western education industry paradigm.

In modern societies, young people, like chattel slaves, are compulsorily prevented from freely exchanging their labour power on the labour market while being compulsorily required to perform educational labour through a process in which their labour power is consumed and reproduced, and only at the end of which as adults they can freely (like freed slaves) enter the labour market to exchange their labour power.

This compulsory dispossession, exploitation and consumption of labour power reflects and reinforces the power distribution between children and adults in modern societies, doing so in a way resembling that between chattel slaves and their owners.

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Book part
Publication date: 26 November 2019

Daniel M. Harrison

As the social scientists of modern society, sociologists find themselves in a peculiar situation. Human civilization appears on the brink of collapse; the ravages of…

Abstract

As the social scientists of modern society, sociologists find themselves in a peculiar situation. Human civilization appears on the brink of collapse; the ravages of global capitalism are turning natural and social orders upside down. Some theorists are declaring the “end of history,” while others wonder if humans will soon become extinct. People find themselves increasingly shouldering burdens on their own, strangers to themselves and others. Struggles for recognition and identity are forged in harsh landscapes of social dislocation and inequality. The relationship of the individual to the state atrophies as governmental power becomes at once more remote and absolutely terrifying. How are we as sociologists expected to theorize under such circumstances?  What implications result for the mission of sociology as a discipline and area of study? What political initiatives, if any, can counter these trends?

This chapter provides an immanent critique of sociology as a profession, vocation, and critical practice. Sociology today (in the US and around the globe) faces fierce social, economic, and political headwinds. The discipline continues to be a perilous choice as a vocation for independent researchers as much as the shrinking professoriate. Yet while the traditional functions of sociology are thrown into doubt, there has been an increase in critical practices on the part of some sociologists. As institutional norms, values, and traditions continue to be challenged, there will be passionate debates about the production of social worlds and the validity claims involved in such creation. Sociologists must play an active role in such discourse. Sociology is needed today as a mode of intervention as much as occupational status system or method of inquiry.

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The Challenge of Progress
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-572-6

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1977

J.G. NOAM ASHER

“Deep in all of us”, wrote a Homes and gardens sub‐editor in April 1965, headlining Elspeth Huxley's article A cottage on a hillside, “is a craving for a quiet country…

Abstract

“Deep in all of us”, wrote a Homes and gardens sub‐editor in April 1965, headlining Elspeth Huxley's article A cottage on a hillside, “is a craving for a quiet country retreat, old, mellow and secluded.” If true, this had clearly been true of England at least for a very long while. “Of late there has been a positive spate of books about living in the country”, wrote Philip Gosse in 1935. “The rustic life is all the rage.” “The cult of the country cottage”, declared J. Gordon Allen in 1912, “which was thought a few years ago to be merely a passing whim, has recently developed apace”. The manner in which a sizeable proportion of the English middle class were persuaded over several decades to forsake or at least to contemplate forsaking urban living is of some interest to, amongst others, sociologists and social historians. Since we are concerned here with the bibliographical aspects of this radical shift of attitudes, it would be as well to dispose at the outset of one possible analysis: namely the idea that literary precedents had much to do with this. Agreed, masters of urban living much earlier than the English—the Romans—invented apparently the away‐from‐it‐all stance: Horace, generals returning to the plough with Rome saved, the Georgics. Agreed also, their Augustan imitators had much to say about places in the country. But consider Wootton's

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Library Review, vol. 26 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0024-2535

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Book part
Publication date: 16 June 2015

David J. Patterson

This qualitative case study explored the information literacy acquisition of 23 students enrolled in a learning community consisting of an advanced English as a Second…

Abstract

This qualitative case study explored the information literacy acquisition of 23 students enrolled in a learning community consisting of an advanced English as a Second Language (ESL) writing class and a one-unit class introducing students to research at a suburban community college library in California. As there are no other known learning communities that link an ESL course to a library course, this site afforded a unique opportunity to understand the ways in which ESL students learn to conduct library research. Students encountered difficulties finding, evaluating, and using information for their ESL assignments. Strategies that the students, their ESL instructor, and their instructional librarian crafted in response were enabled by the learning community structure. These strategies included integration of the two courses’ curricula, contextualized learning activities, and dialogue. ESL students in this study simultaneously discovered new language forms, new texts, new ideas, and new research practices, in large part because of the relationships that developed over time among the students, instructor, and instructional librarian. Given the increasing number of ESL students in higher education and the growing concern about their academic success, this study attempts to fill a gap in the research literature on ESL students’ information literacy acquisition.

Details

Advances in Library Administration and Organization
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-910-3

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Book part
Publication date: 3 December 2005

Ward Churchill

There is no argument among serious researchers that a mongoloid stock first colonized the New World from Asia. Nor is there controversy about the fact that these…

Abstract

There is no argument among serious researchers that a mongoloid stock first colonized the New World from Asia. Nor is there controversy about the fact that these continental pioneers used the Bering Land Bridge that then connected the Asian Far East with Alaska.– Gerald F. Shields, et al.American Journal of Genetics (1992)

Details

Social Theory as Politics in Knowledge
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-363-1

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