Home Concepts Organizational Theory Journey to Irony I: The Lands of Alpha and Beta

Journey to Irony I: The Lands of Alpha and Beta

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In referencing analyses from my previous essay, I would propose that a consonant world is one in which there is a high percentage of pattern and a low percentage of variation. Conversely, in a world of dissonance, variations will be found in abundance, while there is very little pattern to hold everything together.

We are also likely to find that there are only a few images of self – maybe only one – in a world of consonance. The analysis provided by Ken Gergen (2001) wouldn’t make much sense in this world. By contrast, Gergen’s description of the saturated self would ring true in a world of dissonance. Those dwelling in this world are likely to be saturated with many different images of self.

Disengagement and Enmeshment

I borrow the second coordinate from the world of family systems theory (and by extension, social anthropology). Some families are disengaged. Each member of the family essentially goes their own way and there isn’t much “there” there regarding extensive interaction or interdependence among family members. At the level of an organization, community or entire culture, we can similarly identify “disengagement” regarding levels of interdependence.

This is a “low context” system. Each word and action can be understood independent of the interpersonal context in which the word is spoken and action is taken. This is a loosely bound system in which each element operates with considerable independence; it is hard to predict the behavior of any one element knowing the behavior of one or more other elements in the system. We can apply this analysis in labeling one end of our coordinate a World of Disengagement.

Residents of this world rely heavily on the insights and wisdom offered by individual members and are suspicious of any insights or words of wisdom to be offered by any collective. Often, the residents look only to themselves for insights and wisdom. They “go it alone.” Put simply, this is a world of individualism and independence. Individual rights are celebrated and reinforced.

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