Social ontology: Understanding Public Orgainisation

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Social ontology – particularly its leading concept, collective intentionality –provides helpful insights into public organisations. The paper sets out the some of the limitations of cultural theories and takes as its example of these the group-grid theory of Douglas and Hood. It then draws upon Brentano, Husserl and Searle to show the ontological character of public management. Modern public institutions – such as advisory organisations and service delivery agencies, including schools and universities – are expressions of human collective intentionality. Public institutions are natural structures that emerge from our evolutionary ancestry as cooperative animals and enduringly display all the features of that ancestry. The central concept within these institutions, as a phenomenology reveals, is cooperation.

Text of Social ontology: Understanding Public Orgainisation

  • 1. Understanding public organisations: collective intentionality as cooperation Social ontology particularly its leading concept, collective intentionality provides helpful insights into public organisations. The paper sets out the some of the limitations of cultural theories and takes as its example of these the group-grid theory of Douglas and Hood. It then draws upon Brentano, Husserl and Searle to show the ontological character of public management. Modern public institutions such as advisory organisations and service delivery agencies, including schools and universities are expressions of human collective intentionality. Public institutions are natural structures that emerge from our evolutionary ancestry as cooperative animals and enduringly display all the features of that ancestry. The central concept within these institutions, as a phenomenology reveals, is cooperation.

2. Understanding public organisations - collective intentionality as cooperation R o b e r t S h a w T h e O p e n P o l y t e c h n i c o f N e w Z e a l a n d 3. How to explain institutions Psychological theories Cultural theories Grid-group Social ontology Husserl Searle Today 4. W h a t c a l l s f o r a n e x p l a n a t i o n ? 1 P s y c h o l o g i c a l t h e o r i e s F o c u s o n t h o s e w i t h i n r o l e s , p o w e r , i n p u t s - o u t p u t s 2 C u l t u r a l t h e o r i e s F o c u s o n i n s t i t u t i o n s k i n d s , d y n a m i c s , r e l a t i o n s h i p s , s t a k e h o l d e r s , e v o l u t i o n o f o r g a n i s a t i o n s 3 S o c i a l o n t o l o g y P h e n o m e n o l o g y C r e a t i o n o f m e a n i n g How to explain institutions 5. A c u l t u r a l t h e o r y C h r i s t o p h e r H o o d ( O x f o r d ) Grid/group cultural theory captures much of the variety in current and historical debates about how to organize in government and public services, because it offers a broad framework for analysis which is capable of incorporating much of what is already known about organisational variety. Application of a cultural-theory framework can illuminate many of the central analytic questions in public management. E x p l a i n s f a i l u r e s N e w P u b l i c M a n a g e m e n t ( n e o - l i b e r a l e c o n o m i c s ) F o u r w a y s t o u n d e r s t a n d p u b l i c m a n a g e m e n t : H i e r a r c h i c a l I n d i v i d u a l i s t i c E g a l i t a r i a n F a t a l i s t Grid-group theory its use 6. Ruth Benedict Patterns of Culture, 1934 Mary Douglas Social anthropology A start for this will be to construct (yes, I mean construct, fabricate, think up, invent) two dimensions. ... I use grid for a dimension of individuation, and group for a dimension of social incorporation(Douglas, 1982, p. 190). Grid-group theory its foundation 7. People take on roles or attitudes in accordance with their inclinations on the dimensions of: Group (beliefs about the bonds between people) & Grid (beliefs about how people take on roles in groups). Grid-group theory its foundation 8. 1 . H e g e l 1 8 0 7 W a y i n w h i c h k n o w l e d g e a p p e a r s 2 . F r a n z B r e n t a n o 1 8 7 4 P s y c h o l o g y f r o m a n E m p i r i c a l S t a n d p o i n t Every mental phenomenon is characterised by what the Scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (or mental) in- existence of an object, and what we might call, though not wholly unambiguously, reference to a content, direction upon an object (which is not to be understood here as meaning a thing), or immanent objectivity. Every mental phenomenon includes something as an object within itself; although they do not all do so in the same way. In presentation something is presented, in judgment something is affirmed or denied, in love loved, in hate hated, in desire desired, and so on. 3 . H u s s e r l T h e o r y o f n t e n t i o n a l i t y Intentionality - origins 9. I n t e n t i o n a l i t y i s a f e a t u r e o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s : d i r e c t e d n e s s o f t h o u g h t T h i n k F e e l T o u c h H a t e H o p e K n o w U n d e r s t a n d O r g a n i c a p p r o a c h : I t i s p r i m o r d i a l o r i g i n a r i n e s s w h i c h p r o v i d e s u s w i t h i n s i g h t s i n t o t h e o n t o l o g i c a l s i t u a t i o n o f t h e a n i m a t e o r g a n i s m . E g o a n d a l t e r e g o ( w h i c h m a y b e s h a r e d w i t h a n o t h e r h u m a n b e i n g ) T h i s s h a r e d o v e r l a y c o n s t i t u t e s a s a m u t u a l t r a n s f e r o f s e n s e . R e c e n t e n q u i r e s t h a t b u i l d o n H u s s e r l : 1 , M e t h o d o f p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l r e d u c t i o n S h a w ( l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t , d e m o c r a c y , d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g ) 2 . C o n c e p t o f i n t e n t i o n a l i t y S e a r l e ( c o l l e c t i v e i n t e n t i o n a l i t y , c o o p e r a t i o n , i n s t i t u t i o n s ) Husserl 10. My project The essence of local government Be with Eliminate categories That which you cannot eliminate Phenomenological reduction 11. A lead concept is collective intentionality John Searle The construction of social reality (1995) Making the social world: the structure of human civilization (2010) Social ontology 12. Searles method: Based on experience / reflection Organic foundation & continuity Unified account: One world: facts Society, institutions, individuals, language I intend / we intend Co-operation Collective intentionality 13. Institutional facts / background / capacities X counts as Y in a Context Collective prior intentions / intentions in action Human institutions = structures of constitutive rules (typically not conscious)