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Amends to my blog…. and the January Conference Proposal

November 17, 2010

Me & my blog working it out... See how hard I'm trying ?!!?

You know it’s bad when your blog reports you to social services for neglect…

Well, after paying a hefty fine, and enduring a very tearful reconciliation (which included a rather embarrassing stretch of hysterical screaming into pillows–my throat still hurts by the way…) I promised everyone I’d do better.

So here’s my first, long-over due attempt to keep my promise. It’s not much, but it’s a start. I’ll do better. I promise. Really.

Things are starting to get serious in the Land of Doctoral Studies: time to narrow the focus and start playing in my big boy pants when it comes to my research topic. The good news is that it is starting to come together.

This past semester off (you knew that, right? I took a semester off to get caught up and recover from that slight case of exhaustion..), well, it’s been a really good thing. I’ve gotten much deeper and more focused sense of where I’m going with my research.

Don’t quote me on this but the rough idea is something like Leadership’s and Dialogue as Tool for Transformation in Complex Adaptive Systems. Needs work. Lots. But it’s a start.

To that end, I just submitted a proposal for my upcoming academic residency. January 3-11 in Cincinnati at Union Institute and University. It’s a piece of the bigger puzzle that’s in process. The presentation is not as much about leadership as it is the social dynamics underpinning dialogue. That will then inform that larger project of how dialogue and leadership work together.

Now for some reason the common wisdom is to keep all this stuff under wraps, but–for a reason I cannot explain–I think it’s important to put this out there to all 3 of you and see what feedback it garners. In truth, I feel pretty strongly about this whole notion of collective emergence and something tells me there something valuable to be gained through opening things up a bit.

To that end, here the synopsis I sent in. As I said, comments and questions are welcome…

The Hopeful Turn Toward Nothing True or Deep:
Identity as a Product of Dialogical Emergence


One of the most important functions of the social bond is to help us answer two critical questions—Who Am I? and How Do I Know That To Be? Many of us think about the first one a lot; but for most of us, the second question–of how our identity comes to be–is most often determined just below the surface of conscious awareness.

The purpose of this presentation is to help us all discover a clearer understanding how identity, once considered a fixed construct, is actually a creative process that is constantly in motion; a product of complex adaptive forces often realized through the experience of dialogue.

To gain a deeper awareness of the what is at play we will look briefly at how the traditional social models sought to impose identity through broad, rigid ideologies–or metanarratives. The job of these metanarrative was to prescribe meaning and establish rigid systems of social order.

With the postmodern turn, critical thinkers in many quarters began to advocate a rejection of these metanarratives and instead asserted conceptions of society and the individual’s role within it based on the idea of fragmentation and ambiguity.

Finally, we’ll see that during the latter part of the 20th century a growing constellation of thinkers—including pragmatist philosophers, complexity scientists, and communication theorists—suggested a new approach to identity that framed it, not as a fixed product of grand value systems, but as a dynamic response to multiple, commonplace dialogic engagements.

Using this interdisciplinary lens I hope to show how the “me” each of us comes know is, as Rorty reminds us, not the result of “getting a clearer vision of something true and deep” but is actually found one relationship at a time through our daily exploration of “the particular little things” (p. 86) that comprise all that is mundane and miraculous in this very moment here and now.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2010 3:31 am

    Yes. Good direction. I always concur that if two people engage in a real dialogue for twenty minutes, they will never be able to hate each other anymore, although they may still fall out and have wildly divergent worldviews – and their lives will have changed forever.

    To this end you should read My Lover, Myself by Dr. David Kantor, which has as a subtitle “Self-Discovery through Relationship.” Not only does it support what you posit, it also offers a model for doing structural work in a relationship that is dialogic to the core.

    And hey, I am engaged reader #1… 🙂


    • November 21, 2010 10:14 pm

      Hey there Martijn,

      Thanks for your comments. I agree about the ability of dialogue to shift and help reconcile “stuck spaces”. It’s an amazingly powerful process and the more I learn about it the more I see.

      Thanks for the recommendation on the Kantor text. I’ll check it out tonight. Best, ~d

      PS: Looking forward to chatting soon–just have to figure out a time 🙂

  2. danieldurrant permalink
    November 17, 2010 11:11 am

    I love where you’re going with this David. The power of metanarrative is something that has been on my mind lately. I’m particularly curious with the manner metanarrative alters identity. I like this change in direction. Tackling this path may be difficult, but at the top of the mountain I’ve heard there are keys to ascension. 😉

    • November 21, 2010 10:23 pm

      Hey Daniel,

      Thanks for the supportive comments. Yeah, metanarratives…they’re everywhere and I think since we’ve become more aware of them they’ve gotten much subtler (sneakier too?).

      I’m a big fan of the pragmatists, particularly Rorty. They put the focus, not on movement or ideals but on the power in this very moment of engagement. Very interesting stuff.

      Looking forward to more of your insights!

  3. November 20, 2010 9:02 am

    Great summary: I’m with you here and am on a similar journey – also looking at how professional identity is shaped in specific professional environments. Want to go beyond the sweeping assumptions and statements about how this happens. Go for it, and let’s chat sometime.

    • November 21, 2010 10:27 pm

      Hey Ian,

      Thanks for your comments and I appreciate the support. I checked out your blog and, yes indeed, we do have similar interests. I’d be interested at some point in learning about your key influences/resources. And yes, let’s figure out a way to connect.


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