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Lunch Seminar: Group-level “we”-feelings
17 June 2020 @ 12:00 - 13:00
Next Wednesday, June 17th, we will have our (probably) final lunch seminar of this academic year. In his talk Group-level “we”-feelings, Marc Slors will address the question “What makes makes members of large groups, such as societies, feel they belong to the same (cultural) group?”. At the bottom of this email you will find a full abstract.
The meeting will take place from 12.00 to 13.00 via Zoom. As usual, you will receive an invitation 5 to 10 minutes prior to join the seminar.
Abstract: Group-level ‘we’-feelings
What makes members of large groups, such as societies, feel they belong to the same (cultural) group? One answer is that they share beliefs and values. Another type of answer focusses more on practices, conventions and shared behavioural norms. Michael Tomasello can be regarded as a defender of the latter option. In a recently published BBS target article, he defends the idea that conventions and norms are scaled-up versions of principles that are already at play in dyadic collaborative joint action, for example in children. Conventions and norms allow us to recognize members of our own group, and they allow us to regulate collaboration partners—i.e. members of larger collaborating groups—in a scaled-up version of the way in which collaborating children do this. I agree with Tomasello that conventions and norms are what binds groups together. But I disagree with his explanation for why this is so. Tomasello’s explanation disregards the difference between dyadic collaboration, characterized by contributive action coordination, and the typical division of labour involved in collaboration in large-scale groups, characterized by distributive action coordination. This difference affects the identification of those who share our conventions and norms as collaboration partners. Rather than grounding the feeling that these people belong to ‘us’ in an assessment of their status as collaboration partners, I suggest that this feeling is grounded in the ease with which we can coordinate our different socio-cultural roles with them.
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