The Ecology of Social Practice in Language, Communication, and Constructing the Future

The Ecology of Social Practice in Language, Communication, and Constructing the Future

Alexey V. Mikhalsky (Moscow State Pedagogical University, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7853-6.ch004
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This chapter covers some aspects unified by the author's concept of psychology of constructing the future as an ecosystemic approach to social practice. The ecology of the future is considered to be nurtured through most important areas of human life, such as language, communication and rhethorics, education and healthcare, organizational management, and leadership. The chapter also presents the “problem-making” approach as a practice of deliberate creation of useful problems in developmental processes. The authors come to a conclusion that those areas can be significantly amplified using a collaborative approach to constructing the shared future.
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In 1957 Jean-Paul Sartre wrote: «The sense of an action and its value can be understood only in the perspective of a motion, that realizes the possibilities, and unveils that was given earlier. A man is a significant entity for himself and others, because one can not understand any of his actions without transcending the present, without explaining it through the future” (Sartre, 1957). Moreover, the reader should take into account not only the compliance of the environment, but also the active interaction with the environment, a kind of system response. As Jean Renoir wrote about his father, August, “He sculpted the crowd keeping his ideal in mind... The streets of our cities are filled with Renoirs: girls, children with eyes wide-opened and skin that does not repel the light” (Petrenko, 2005).

The image of the future has not only direct impact on the future, but also the retroaction: the environment can actively oppose (resist) because the ecosystem integrates a new image of the future (if it doesn’t fit to the context of its metasystem), and also it tunes up the ecosystem aligning to some new qualities of the new order, or a new state.

One of the basic premises of the model of constructing the future on ecosystemic level is the assumption of equifinality and multifinality of systems. Equifinality is a dynamic characteristic of a system that enables its transition from different beginning states towards one common final state. Multifinality is an ability of a system to come to different ending states starting from the same positions and statuses. As the authors see the holistic image of the future as a possible state of a system (future psychic reality of an individual or a group), so a common formed image can lead systems to different states, and, vice versa, different images can, somehow, lead the identical systems to different states. Being put in different ecosystems or contexts, and sharing a common desired future, neighboring systems can arrive at highly various situations (final states), but the systems in different conditions can be led by different images of the future, but come to the same point (final state). An important systemic characteristic of the constructed future is called circular causality (changes in one of the parts of a system - for example, in the mood of one of the members, - can change the development of a whole system). The ecosystemic view implies also intersystemic causality.

Images of the future as systems are organized following some leading principles:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Intersystemic Causality: Changes and effects in one of interconnected systems trigger changes in other systems of the whole metasystem.

Vision: A concept that matches the image of the future company and shows what is the purpose of the organization (why and what for the company was created). The vision describes the ideal state of the organization in a few years in the future.

Problemmaking: Deliberate creation of problems. A method of creating problem-focused or solution-focused discussions of the future. Used as a highly-variative problem-solving method to create more volume and space for the future. Problemmaking is most successful in a form of group activity.

Circular Causality: Changes in one of the parts of a system set forth the changes in other parts and in the system.

Signal Field: A signal field is a set of signals of different types, that were produced by creatures that inhabit the territory; they are merged in time and space and have a meaningful value, thus carrying certain information.

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