• Helen B. Schwartzman


Consider a room. There are four tables pushed together, and people are sitting on chairs around the tables. They are drinking coffee or cokes, and there are papers scattered on top of the table. Some of the papers say “agenda,” and soon many people will start scribbling on them. There is a hum of conversation, and then one person raises her voice and begins to speak, and the hum begins to die down. Shortly after this a second person starts speaking, apparently in response to the first person’s comments, and this is followed by a third person’s remarks. All in all, at the end of this event over three-quarters of the people in the room will have spoken at least one or two sentences, but only a few will remember what they have said. Many of the people in this room report that they canceled or rescheduled other events in order to attend this one because they thought it “was important”—afterwards they will say it was a waste of time.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen B. Schwartzman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and Center for Urban Affairs and Policy ResearchNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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