The Concept of the Co-Present Group
This chapter (Six) begins Part II, the heart of the book, which introduces participation in small groups as a significant human phenomenon, one that is central to complexity thinking (set out in Chap. 7). Conversely, as Chap. 8 then shows, complexity thinking expounds and illuminates the characteristic potency of small groups, which we call ‘co-present groups’. It is the task of this chapter (Six) to establish the notion of the co-present group. First, four examples of familiar groups (identified in Chap. 1) are given greater significance here. These small groups show how a ‘sense of place’ transcends (although also includes) geography: juries, sub-schools, a mother and baby, and a string quartet are locatable in places, primarily geographically, but their distinctive identities as groups emerge over time in what we may call ‘stretched places’ of intensive intimacy as well as of extensive significance. A jury is embedded in a legal system that persists over generations, if not centuries; a sub-school persists over several years of students’ and teachers’ engagement; a maternal bond lasts a lifetime, and a string quartet (both the entity and the performances it gives) contributes to musical history. Second, these commonalities lead us into the significance of particular underpinning features of what we now call ‘co-present groups’—their holism, their focus on affect, and their locus in ‘place-in-time’. Third, we define the concept of the ‘co-present group’: the sharing of relationally holistic and social activities, particularly affective functioning, in distinctive places. Finally, we present three ‘real-life’ narratives where vivid accounts of personal workplace experiences show how ‘co-present groups’ have progressed this ‘holistic relationality’.
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