Dialogue and Second-Order Cybernetics: A Mutual Affinity

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For the past decade or so, I have been engaged in a research project of sorts, examining the consequences and entailments of operating — in effect, living — from a second order cybernetic perspective. This engagement has included, as domains of interest, practices such as researching, ‘helping’ (organizational consultancy, community development, family therapy, etc.), and teaching/ learning. However, I have also been concerned with blurring the distinctions between these different practices (such as, research as intervention, helping as research (or, at least, helping as reflective practice), etc.). Of course, this has involved my own work as a kind of autoethnography of second order cybernetic practice — but it has also involved work with diverse others. It has, for example, involved students studying a change process in their own organizations, with all of the reflexive issues involved in such an endeavor. This last, from a cybernetic standpoint, involves bearing in mind my own relationship to the students, as they become ‘subjects’ and ‘researchers’ (as do I) in the same interview process. My questions to them provide opportunities for a reexamination (and change of) their own research/ managerial work, as well as for mine.

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Cybernetics and Human Knowing, v. 5, issue 3, p. 35-36