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Exploring Meaning through Organizing in Musicking John Paul Stephens May Meaning Meeting 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Exploring Meaning through Organizing in Musicking John Paul Stephens May Meaning Meeting 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Exploring Meaning through Organizing in Musicking John Paul Stephens May Meaning Meeting 2008

2 May Meaning Meeting Presentation ‘Score’ Theoretical background: Coordination Conceptualization: Musicking Methods & Data Places of Meaning in Choir Framing attempt Questions for MMMMembers

3 May Meaning Meeting Introduction Dissertation work: Understanding the experience of successful coordination Context: –Complex, interdependent group task –Musicking (Small, 1998) as coordination and organizing

4 May Meaning Meeting Theory on Coordination Coordination in Psychology –Synchrony (Bernieri, Reznick, & Rosenthal, 1988) Coordination in Organizational Studies –Organizational Design (Galbraith, 1977; Lawrence & Lorsch, 1967) –Contingency theories (Thompson, 1967; Van de Ven et al., 1976)

5 May Meaning Meeting Theory on Coordination (cont’d) Coordination between individuals at work: –Relational coordination (Gittell 2001; 2002) –Energy-in-conversation (Quinn & Dutton, 2005) –Heedful interrelating (Weick & Roberts, 1993)

6 May Meaning Meeting Central Problem: What we (don’t) know about coordination We know ways of “managing” coordination But how is it actually experienced or enacted? Coordination depends on mindfulness of interdependencies (Dougherty, 1992; Heath & Staudenmayer, 2000; Weick & Roberts, 1993) Mindful of what exactly? Where is attention focused? Coordination also involves the emergence of a new, holistic form (Fleck, 1979; Weick & Roberts, 1993) Where does a sense of “being group” come from? How is it related to coordination?

7 May Meaning Meeting The psychological experience of coordination A dual characterization –Attention (to self-in-relation-to-other) –Feeling (of “being group”) A multi-modal communicative achievement Research Focus

8 May Meaning Meeting Conceptual Framework (Successful) Coordination involves: Individuals interrelating action mindfully, attending to the relationship between self- and other- produced actions (cf. Weick & Roberts, 1993). Individuals apprehending being of a group, a “whole” that is greater than the sum of its parts (Sandelands, 1998; 2003).

9 May Meaning Meeting What I mean by “work” A broad view of organizing Interrelated action to achieve collective purpose (Weick, 1979) Interest in the phenomenology (the in- the-moment-experience) of interrelating action as a collective

10 May Meaning Meeting Music as context Chorus as organizational form Singing in choir is most popular public arts activity (NEA survey, 1998) Almost 200-strong, community choir in Midwestern town “Best Choral Performance” Grammy winners Conductor prepares choir for other conductors, performance with symphony orchestras

11 May Meaning Meeting Motivation of Research Novice to choral singing and musical performance Sensitive to issues of attention and coordination; concurrent interest in organizational cognition Ethnographic methods used given my insider status and the performative nature of task.

12 May Meaning Meeting Research Goals Ethnography = representation of a culture [and its meanings] (Van Maanen, 1988) Cognitive ethnography = how those meanings are created; how action embodies mind; how context shapes action and action renews context (cf. Hutchins, 1995)

13 May Meaning Meeting Meaning in the choir How do I link meaning with my core interests of attention and feeling?

14 May Meaning Meeting Methods Insider/Outsider research (Bartunek & Louis, 1996; Evered & Louis, 1981) Participant-observation Semi-structured (collective) interviewing (cf. Fontana & Frey, 1994; Morgan & Spanish, 1984)

15 May Meaning Meeting Data Fieldnotes (8 months; 57 hours of rehearsals; 18 hours of dress rehearsals; 21 hours of public performance = 187 single-spaced pages of notes) Interviews (27 individuals, 7 paired interviews) Video (one rehearsal)

16 May Meaning Meeting Where to begin? What are people saying is important to them? Attention (demonstrated in fieldnotes and interviews) Feeling (demonstrated in fieldnotes and interviews) Explicit testimony of meaning in interviews

17 May Meaning Meeting Where is meaning in the choir? “Places” of meaning In performance/action In context of action

18 May Meaning Meeting Meaning in Performance

19 May Meaning Meeting Meaning in Performance Harmony: Meaning in “togetherness” of sound Focus on technical elements vs. engagement in emotion: Linked to performance quality Repair: Can’t “re-sing”; music comprised of related notes; obligation to audience

20 May Meaning Meeting Meaning in Performance Connecting with conductor: his facial expression signals performance quality; eye contact creates “shared moment” Physicality: co-located physical action; discomfort; gesturing in section self- correction; seating arrangement

21 May Meaning Meeting Meaning in Context of Action Role & identity: Sopranos vs. altos; Basses & sopranos vs. altos & tenors; “job” vs. choir Music as meaning-laden communication: Connection with entire story of musical work; connecting text content to spirituality/religion

22 May Meaning Meeting Meaning in Context of Action Social connection: making friends and being able to sing next to them; responding to conductor as coordinating center; transferral of significance of piece from conductor to singer; socializing vs. “work” of singing; getting married Seating arrangement preference and neighbor’s expertise Singer --> singer vs. Conductor --> singer correction

23 May Meaning Meeting An attempt at a framing…

24 May Meaning Meeting “Meaning of work” framing Meaning as created in interpersonal encounters (Wrzesniewski, Dutton & Debebe, 2003) In the case of the choir…meaning as created in apprehending place in collective, one’s role in coordination Similar to Quinn & Dutton (2005), where conversation helps clarify one’s place in the [narrative about] the collective.

25 May Meaning Meeting What is work meaning? Work meaning = employees’ understanding of what they do [at work] as well as the significance of what they do (Wrzesniewski, Dutton & Debebe, 2003). In the case of intragroup coordination, “understanding” in terms of attention and feeling.

26 May Meaning Meeting Construct of “work meaning” Meaning of task: unpaid, amateur, publicly performing, choral singer Meaning of role: soprano, alto, tenor, bass, manager, librarian, section leader Meaning of self in work: I can do more than my day job, I am musically “expert” or am “learner”, I can influence others

27 May Meaning Meeting Potential Contributions Richer, more specific views of how coordination gets done Furthering relational view of how work is done Focus on both attention (cognitive) and feeling (affect)

28 May Meaning Meeting Questions to MMMMembers Other views of coordination, or ways of interpreting these situations? More to “meaning” in the choir than simply “this is what is fun”? What literatures would be useful to look into now, considering the early stage of work?

29 May Meaning Meeting Thank You!!


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