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Reframing Personal Relationships between Innovators or Leaders

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Reframing Personal Relationships between Innovators or Leaders
Symptoms of antipathy between change agents
Basis for antipathy between change agents
Consequences of antipathy between change agents
Illustrative examples
Recognition of "reluctance" in a social change context
References

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Introduction

The vast majority of studies and concerns with regard to social change and conceptual innovation focuses on "abstractions". Such abstractions include philosophies, theories, conceptual frameworks, belief systems, values, models of human and social development, and the like. Many concrete issues with which these are concerned may also be subject to definitional game-playing that converts them into abstractions. "Sustainable development" has become one such abstraction; "sustainable community" another.

Most organizations designed to deal with issues in some way may also be seen as abstractions that mainly derive their "existence" in reality from legal documents. There is a significant gap between the pattern of relations between people in a building and the coherence and substantiality implied by a statement such as "that is the UN Secretariat". In this sense the UN as such cannot be "seen" and must necessarily be understood as an abstract pattern through which some people choose to manage their affairs.

There is however an immediate reality to the interaction between representatives of any two distinct social change initiatives or factions -- whether in establishment bodies at the highest level, or in local communities, or in any community of peers. They may choose to behave formally and to conduct their communications with each other from positions corresponding to their titles and responsibilities. Such communications may be consistent with their concerns and otherwise quite unremarkable in content. They may be extremely cordial, or at least appear to be so. They may indicate possibilities of cooperation between the respective initiatives, which may indeed be explored to some degree.

This paper is however concerned with the extent to which such people may find each other unacceptable or intolerable in some way -- such as to directly undermine action contributing to effective social change. Transactions between such people are then inhibited in some way. This phenomenon is widely recognized in practice and may even be a matter of common knowledge vital to the organization of any event in which both parties must be seen to participate. However, it is seldom formally acknowledged in unclassified documents. It may only become formally known long after the time when any antipathy was critical to ensuring effective collaboration. In an increasingly media-sensitive society, where upbeat reporting is perceived as vital to creating a positive impression, it may be in the interest of all parties to disguise such differences with all the art of public relations and image management.


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