The Meeting pp 115-143 | Cite as

Constructing a Meeting

  • Helen B. Schwartzman


Participants at Midwest frequently experienced frustration, ambiguity, and conflict in their relationships with each other—this is characteristic of life in an organized anarchy. But it would be a mistake to focus only on this ambiguity and confusion without examining the order and predictability that individuals also experienced. This sense of order was produced by the variety and cycle of gatherings in which participants engaged during their working day. Each day individuals were brought together in recurring as well as novel combinations by the gatherings that they were either obligated to attend (by prior commitment, due to their position at the center, etc.) or that they had themselves scheduled and/or organized. What these gatherings had in common was talk; as participants moved from a therapy session to a chat to a meeting, they continually talked to one another. Each one of the typical gatherings at Midwest was characterized by a particular pattern of speech and action as well as group expectations about what constituted “proper” speech and action and use of speech on these occasions, and, for the most part, everyone understood the difference between a chat and a meeting or a therapy session and a lecture. The similarities and differences, and sometimes confusion, between these types of gatherings will be discussed in detail in this and subsequent chapters.


Executive Director Executive Committee Board Meeting Staff Meeting Committee Meeting 
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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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