Locating Our Enquiry
In contrast to the current popular concerns about automation and robotics stripping away humans’ skills, expertise and sense of achievements through daily work and life, this book identifies ubiquitous and yet newly complex group-based activities that have always been present in human life. Indeed, we claim that these very activities are overlooked because of their ubiquity. We will bring them to new prominence through the conceptual lens of complexity theorising. So, we claim that skills, competence, expertise, practices and even agency and learning themselves—all fundamental group-based human experiences—will be distinctively and thoroughly recast in the chapters that follow. This chapter introduces four examples of groups which are very familiar and may not, at first glance, seem to have much in common: the jury, the staff of part of a school, the mother–baby dyad and the string quartet. However, as this book will demonstrate, these groups exemplify the Yin-and-Yang of less reductive complexity by showing how groups’ agency plays out in central desirable aspects of skills, competence, expertise, practices and learning, from which all humans expect to benefit. Our ontological claim throughout this book is that the emergence of relationality is the main contribution of complexity theory to the social sciences. We maintain that the world is primarily constituted in and through relations, from which groups, entities and individuality emerge.
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