The inner worlds of individuals can be affected by, and can affect the exterior, and as such I view these as mutually affecting each other. Ollhoff & Walcheski (2002) tell us that (process adaptive) systems include principles of family therapy, with the differentiation of emotion as motivation for action. The inclusion of emotion and anxiety suggest the existence of interior individual qualities that affect relationships of individuals to others and to their environments. In Fletcher’s (1999) work, she discovered that the relational work of the subjects that allowed them to use the “emotional landscape” of interactions to determine the needs of their colleagues. Considering emotion is an interior quality of the human system, Hesse Biber (2007) referred to Jaggar, who said our emotions are an integral part of why a given topic is studied and how it is studied (in research). In this situation, the interior quality of emotion affects the relationship of the human system to the system it is studying, blending one’s thinking, feeling, and actions to bridge the emotions and the need to rationalize.
Peter Senge, in The Fifth Discipline, describes the essence of systems thinking as interrelationships rather than linear cause and effect; and as processes of change rather than snapshots. As organized circles of cause and effect relationships, the idea of the feedback loops to see patterns and how actions can balance each other, I am directed to the four cornerstones of the partnership political agenda, as presented by Riane Eisler (2002). Looking only at gender relations of the partnership model and identifying a need for change in cultural beliefs about male and female roles, control/subordination, and changed mental maps, Fletcher refers to the work of Senge and suggests that there will be resistance when assumptions, or mental models, are challenged. Although there is an expressed need for a “new” type of worker, one who is “relational” and who integrates both the masculine and feminine domains into their work and relational interests, Fletcher, like Senge, knows that it is and will be no easy task. Relational work, even that it is researched and discussed, is still seen as attributes of people, not competencies, and relational activity still runs counter to the organizational descriptions of competence.
Senge refers to language shaping our perceptions, and that some situations, especially when looking at feedback as mutual flow of information. In this loop, every influence serves both a cause and an effect, with the human being a part of the process. This is a shift in awareness, and everyone shares the responsibility. Fletcher says of language, it is limiting but becomes the task in telling of an experience: to “re-present the experience” and thus to create a new way of thinking. In the research realm, re-presenting an experience is an opportunity to include the role of relational behavior, breaking or perpetuating the status quo of “disappearing” non-dominant perspective.
Eisler, R. (2002). The power of partnership. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Fletcher, J. (1999). Disappearing acts: Gender, power, and relational practice at work. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Hesse Biber, S. (2007). Feminist research: Exploring the interconnectedness of epistemologies, methodology, and method. In S.N. Hesse-Biber (Ed.). Handbook of feminist research (pp. 1-26). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Ollhoff, J. & Walcheski, M. (2002). Stepping in wholes. Eden Prairie, MN: Sparrow Media Group, Inc.
Senge, P. (1990). A shift of mind. The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization, pp. 68-92. New York: Random House, Inc.