You are here: Start

The Social Dimension of Sense

With every chosen focus, each appropriate statement, every perceived event one can ask the question: Do others (individuals, teams, departments etc.) share the assessment of the situation or do they experience, interpret or act differently? If each system selects something different, has a different history, different expectations of the future, then one must, at least, also reckon with differences as well as agreement! Consensus versus dissent is the defining distinction of the social. If everyone agreed purely through an identical perception and interpretation of a situation, then communication would not be required! About what? “Have you seen the bird?” “Yes!”. Only because it is not certain that the other has perceived it, is it a sensible question.

Thus, the experience of dissent and the necessity to create common ground (=consensus) is a phenomenon that meaning systems cannot avoid. There is always somebody who sees or could see ‘it’ differently (sometimes also oneself at another point in time). Social life must reduce these possibilities of dissent and limit them, because, otherwise, neither, ways of experiencing nor actions could be coordinated. In this way systems attune to each other, neglect or sanction differences and encourage and reward commonalities. Norms, values, taboos, duties, conventions, regulations, sanctions, laws, instructions, contracts, conflict rules, consensus techniques and so on all help with this. All this, to remind you once again, is necessary, because otherwise the dissent about that which is, would take over.