Participatory Sense-Making: Between the Social and the Cognitive Realms
I will expound the notion of Participatory Sense-Making recently developed in cognitive science with the aim of getting a better grip on social cognition (De Jaegher and Di Paolo 2007). One of its central pivots is the notion of autonomy, which we see both at the level of the interactors involved, and that of the interaction process. The notion of autonomy at the interaction level is a fairly new one in cognitive science. It allows to reformulate the question of how people understand each other in terms of the interplay between what the individuals bring to a social interaction on the one hand, and the dynamics of the interaction process on the other. This has interesting implications. For instance, it can help to explain situations in which neither interaction partner has a bad intention towards the other to begin with, but where they nevertheless end up fighting. This could be explained by aspects of the interaction process 'taking over' and influencing the interaction partners without them wishing or even being aware of it. Similarly, it can provide insights into situations where interaction partners become 'trapped' in a certain interaction 'style' (hostile, for instance), when neither of them wants to. I will discuss the dynamics of such processes, and ask the question whether and how this is related to the use of the term ‘participation’ in social science.
Keywords: Social Interaction, Intersubjectivity, Embodiment, Enaction, Dynamical Systems
Dr. Hanne De Jaegher
Research Assistant, Department of Informatics, University of Sussex