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Development as Discontinuous Societal Learning

Cyclic transformation of the global answer economy (Part #1)


Prepared for United Nations University: GPID Project (Integrative Working Group B) Colombo, 25 July - 4 August 1982. An alternative version was distributed as Developing through Complexity using Policy Alternation (1982).
Introduction
Questionable answers
Forms of truth
Accumulative answers
Developing a new "meta-answer"
Decodification of analyses of capital accumulation
"New International Conceptual Order"
Accumulation and development
Development of accumulation
Domains of significance
Beyond method
Constraints on a meta-answer
Meta-answer patterning
Containing discontinuity through aesthetics
Third persective "container"
Discontinuity: Comprehension and internalisation
Pattern accumulation in a learning society
Implications for organisation: learning cycles
Implications for forms of presentation
Implications for information processing
Conclusion
References

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Introduction

Many "answers" have been produced in response to the current crisis. This paper is a response to the mind-set which is focused on answer production but fails to recognise the significance of the continuing emergence of alternative answers.

Integration initiatives at this time are themselves fragmented and usually mutually hostile in practice. There is considerable confusion about the nature of integration and it is difficult to imagine that integrative processes favoured by one group would be considered to be of much significance by another. This phenomenon cannot be disguised by simply opting for "networking" processes (1) or viewing it as a healthy feature of academic debate (2).

In this paper answers are examined with a view to understanding the characteristics of "the" answer required at this time. Answers are seen as products of the accumulation of significance which somehow has to be related more closely to human and social development It is argued that the difficulty lies in current restrictive approaches to development which do not internalise discontinuity and incompatibility such as to "contain" the development process, whether conceptually or organisationally. Reinterpreting development as learning (itself more broadly understood) is advocated as a way of achieving this without creating problems from premature closure. Such learning, it is argued, needs to be conceived as cyclic rather than linear. Current answers are viewed as "frozen" portions of such cycles through which they are effectively integrated. Effective learning is thus related to the accumulation of patterns of interlocking cycles for which facilitative computer software is required, if appropriate organisation is to emerge. Given the need for innovative (shock) learning at this time, use of a sexual metaphor is advocated as a rapid means of allowing people to reinterpret the dynamic complexity of the relationship between answers engendered.

The stimulus for this paper came from participation in passionate discussion amongst members of GPID Integration Working Group B (Athens, 1982) from which it seemed quite apparent that adaptive compromises between conflicting perspectives was not the answer and that other approaches were required.romises between conflicting perspectives was not the answer and that other approaches were required.


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