Application II: Community

Familiar as Community is as a particular entity (e.g., village, state, tribe, nation) we need to see it as a behavioral entity (: BE), for it is the most behavioral of all entities. It is by behavior that it comes into existence, and continues in existence as a change agent. And if we measure behavior by the most demanding of problems yet to be solved (:P) – i.e., solved by collective action – then Community will be doubly proved by consequences to be the most behavioral of behavioral entities.

Because we make communities and make things as communities (see : compositional change) it does not do to simply see behavior as a property of communities as entities. We would then limit our thinking about possible communities and possible community actions by not respecting the behavioral principles deriving from the Nature of Things. We would not respect our need for Community as capability. Nor would we understand that Community ought to be continually under development.

(In this discussion I am avoiding the use of “a,” “the,” “this,” “that,” or “which” in regard to Community. These all fail to see Community as need and process; they see particular communities as products and/or product-tools in use [; ]. The latter usage is understandable, given our concern for effective change agents, but it is biased. How ironic, is it not: That the most behavioral of BE should be more familiar as body than as step? And how tragic: because we have made it so.)

If, as we saw in Helping, to be most helpful we require a principled understanding of individual operating systems (the structure of process), then for Community development that requirement is doubled:
  1. We need that understanding to better construct communities in the first place (so that control efforts are not merely aggregate behaviors); and,
  2. We need to enable communities to best help the individual, and the individual to best help their communities in an effective dynamic interdependence.
For every declaration of independence we need a declaration of interdependence.

What makes the “Tragedy of the Commons” such an imposing problem is not just that Hardin’s solution of “conscience” and Crowe’s solution of “consciousness” barely hint at some of the needed behavioral capability (see and , respectively, in regard to compositional change); it is that we have so inadequately developed community that this behavior, and the individual’s behavior in relation to it, may not even come into the picture.
This particular tragedy may be multiplied by accompanying tragedies. If several special interest communities (SI-cmy; see below) try to come together (e.g., departments in a university or a corporation, religions, NGO’s), they too will compete for resources and/or rewards against Community – and, eventually, their own – interests.

What it would take to solve the problem of Community see (: Pbeh) would substantially enable the solving of many vexing problems, not just the tragedies of the commons. Community, not just natural resources, is a Tragedy of the Common’s victim.

We must look at what Community entails, not just at what particular communities possess. “Is as does” is not good enough in this World of Possibility (see : Structure x function). What ought we do? What might we do?

We must be concerned about Community as need and process because of the opportunity to innovate. Steps, unlike bodies, don’t have to start from where they are. To be sure, we might improve this or that tool usage; we may try for more efficiency, placing emphasis on that instead of more directly on effectiveness. But given the kinds of problems we still need to solve (: Sp, S-P, Ps and P) we need to reinvent Community itself – and with a much clearer view of need, one that accords with the general persisting conditions of Everything and is responsive to the imperatives and requisites of behavioral necessity (Topics VI to XI).

In all this we need to keep in mind the dual constitutive aspect of Community: It must be constituted both as body and as step (B-CMY and S-CMY, so to speak — ). (The 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution pertains: It calls for freedom of assembly as well as freedoms of speech, press, and religion.) Community has to be a complex behavioral molecule, linking separate individuals (: discontinuity) and step components (e.g., see procedures:).

***

Meanwhile, situational problems call for change agents. Special interest communities (SI-cmy) respond: companies, nongovernmental organizations, schools, teams, unions, committees, task forces, foundations, groups – the number and variety are enormous. Some may be communities only in name or of a peculiar sort. Not all BE relationships are communities, of course. Although some, such as friendships and marriages, may have some qualities of Community. (Marriages obviously should have these qualities. But they might have been undertaken just to solve another situational problem. In this case, behavioral capability may be sadly lacking – not that it isn’t lacking in other marriages.)

BE relationships are Community to the extent that Community is a recognized player along with the individual BE’s. (See marriage as an institution, for example.) SI-cmy’s are more or less Community too, in the sense that they vary in their development of Community – which may well account for some of the variance in their effectiveness as change agents.(That they have problems of their own internally, such as “communication problems,” is suggestive. [See ).

Special interests bring people together. That’s a start, but only a start. It helps constitute the body part of BE, the B-CMY. But what of BE’s behavioral part: the making and taking of steps? Special interests provide motivation (: see “whatever it takes”) but not necessarily what is needed to be effective (II: “all that it takes”). Shared interest assures focal attention, but what of the rest of needed behavior (Topics VI to XII)? How is Community to be effective if participants do not share a common sense of behavioral process (e.g., BFPS): i.e., a different kind of common sense than what solutions, given our experience, can be expected to work.

What of cognition and communication to follow, after focal attention, and their relation to possible moves? Focal attention may be in consequence of prior cognitions, but what of Community’s capability to think together (, )? Or will the aggregate of BE just rush to take a vote, substituting decision making on available alternatives for innovative problem solving – perhaps for lack of capability on the latter score. (Decision making itself can become the solution for a different problem – i.e., that of the behavioral problem. Is deciding the next best thing to escape?)

Or maybe the nascent community will organize, giving itself a name, establishing membership, and electing or appointing officers (e.g., chair, secretary, and treasurer). (Responsibilities may not be consonant with capabilities.) They must deal with gappiness, the separateness relationship among its members, invoking control structures and control entities, with potential consequences of alienation and marginalization (: Ps), typically via communication. As a behavioral entity it may have only an exo-skeleton, a shell within which to operate. It is then primarily a body, a B-CMY. But what Community needs here is skeleture within and for its behavior, analogous to that of the body’s composition, to give structure and strength to the making and taking of its steps. It needs that second kind of common sense (see above).

So does the individual BE. They all need it if they are to work together effectively, to solve the behavioral problem as well as the situational problems that require collective action. Familiar communities lean heavily on ADOPT and ADAPT, borrowing on tools and procedures that worked before and elsewhere — but may not here and now – and adjusting as best they can to differences and changes in circumstances, ingredients, support, and help. ADEPT is something else. There is more than a hint of this in performance. However, performance can be largely hard-earned practice (with lots of trial and error and perhaps, via supervisory critique and reinforcement, requiring significant help and support). ADEPT needs more; it needs grounding in principled compositional change. It needs to be responsive to all of ATIT, and especially to ATIT’s agency needs (imperatives and requisites) and to imagination and configuring. (See re the latter.)

A community’s operating system is now more usually characterized by shared tool and procedure usages (aka cultures and traditions). “Strangers” are thus recognizable. Such agreements (e.g., of language usage) make quotidian understandings possible, but where is the understanding (i.e., common sense) that makes possible better problem-solving agreements founded on effective collective behavior?

***

Investments are a Community concern. Given the human multi-step capacity, with steps yet to be made in the future, investments – steps we make and take now in anticipation of their utility later – are as much a concern for communities as for individuals. Indeed, communities are an investment for and by individuals; and, in turn, communities must invest in the individuals who will constitute them. Helping depends in great part on this interdependence.

Development is already a major investment by individuals (e.g., parenthood) and communities (e.g., schools). Still, development itself is in need of further development, especially in those behavioral sectors specified by behavioral necessity as imperatives and requisites (Topics VI to XI). We can work around the intellectual impediments blocking our way if we see more clearly the Nature of Things. Further development of development would be a good investment. An expanded service economy, for example, will require a more fundamental base than particular usages – lest it grow in size only by population increase and an evolving tool and/or procedure economy. The latter, after all, may expand only as situational needs emerge. There is no better service economy than one which advances “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and (let’s not forget) “a more perfect union.”

A further, more systematic (i.e., principled), developmental investment ought to be made in research, focusing on development and research (: compare research and development). If, for example, a national service obligation for individuals is deemed appropriate as a part of formal education and/or civic duty, then one potentially productive option ought to be participation in experimental communities (see ) with BFPS-trained participant observers.

Areas of community investment can be critical – i.e., consequential. (See App. III-VI, which give special attention to neglected aspects of behavioral development. Others, such as trade [aka the economy] also deserve BFPS attention as applications.) Budgets reflect policy in regard to ATIT sectors. They also measure understanding – and misunderstanding — of need. (It is a sad fact of life that preparedness, re the behavioral problem, pretty much has to have come before confronting a particular situational problem. There will probably be Psit’s later for which general and particular development now might contribute, but…. [The primacy of the closest collision is no friend to long-range perspectives.])

As an investment, the behavioral nature of Community is crucial. One might reasonably expect communities to continually improve as they develop. But, historically, most communities have faltered and failed. Adoptions fell to competition. Adaptation was not adequate to circumstantial change. They were not prepared. Ideally, they would have progressed, increasingly in concert, to become communities within communities, ultimately manifesting Community as an ideal, a perfected product of the human condition. However … “for lack of a nail…”

Because communities, as product, are the most behavioral of BE, they suffer the most from being addressed as a body. Nowhere among developments is the imbalance of body and step more pronounced. Too easily communities are seen as place. We assign them attributes. In all this Community has become mere circumstance (e.g., as an environmental influence ala “acculturation”). Instead of problem solver it has become itself a problem (: Sp (e.g., infrastructure) and Ps as well as S-P), diminished in consequence and – most terribly – in consequentiality. Community has become too objectified – in both language and thought (See ). This over-emphasized body view is a severe impediment to all capability development.

***

In considering a research investment in Community, we should ask how well Community’s functional needs (Topics VI to XI) are being met, in light of how they ought to and might be met. How does this affect the individual’s engagement in communities? What, that is, are the conditions of engagement – when, and when not, is there an articulation of individual and Community operating systems? Can we make Community as an operating system more visible so that individuals can find their (and others’) place in it? (See Step Map illustration, which emphasizes the sequential (time line) aspect of problem solving and the two branches [: Psit and Pbeh] leading into the behavioral solution [Sbeh].)

Research here has tended to follow practice, drawing what it can from solutions as means (Sbeh) and ends (Ssit) in the context of particular situational problems (Psit’s) – the latter yielding abundant criticism with respect to remaining problems (Sp and Ps, especially) and limited generalization. So such research-based theory says a lot about control entities and structures such as voting, initiative and review, representative government, types of polity (e.g., from anarchy to tyranny, through democracy and oligarchy, and back through the cycle again), constitutions, the body of law, the press, the relationship of political and economic structures, regulatory agencies – and so on (as recounted and criticized in the literatures of sociology and political science, for instance, where alienation and marginalization and socialization et al of the individual [i.e., conditions of engagement] are also attended). The particulars give much to be described, but little is prescribed – except as precedent — in the absence of principles that apply before the fact.

BFPS’s behavioral principles would ask: How good is Community’s step making and taking – especially its minding (, , )? Where does it come up short on “all that it takes”? What more is needed to resolve the difference between Community’s need and its capability (: CN-CC)?

* Would more attention to problem solving relative to decision making) yield more productive control structures? (Government comprises a complex of control structures, but it is also a Community product and product-tool in use – and one susceptible to further development.) How might the voting mechanism intrude less decision making and its partisanship into problem solving? Control structures can marginalize behaviors as well as people. Initiative-review, for example, makes decisions (and issues) rather than problems the focus of attention for many potential civic participants. (A dangerous engagement path when linked to a consumer-oriented economy and pandering media [: clots and clogs]; also see “informed decision” difficulties in App. III)

* What in addition to polling might we do with respect to public opinion? Do the present mass media provide sufficient functionality with respect to Community’s minding needs?

* What about regulation of behavior – when to start and stop? Would more attention to elicited criteria (e.g., re overextended credit) as stop signals prevent societal disasters like the 1930′s depression (with its fascist repercussions) and the current world financial system mess? Can we make saying “No” (e.g., to drugs, crime) work better?

* How might we better structure knowledge so as to respect varieties of both personal and public knowledge in light of the dynamic relationships between agreement and understanding and between individual and community?

*Are our languages up to the task of thinking together (, ), to solve problems, not to just argue decision making’s issues? Can deliberation become more than an exchange of opinions and/or attempts to persuade?

***

Collectively, if not as Community, we have been practicing behavioral alchemy. Not for the gold or medical elixir of the storied past, but for bright ideals like peace and democracy. However, those ideals but refract behavioral need – as for stability, freedom, dignity and equity. As experience demonstrates and the Periodic Table illustrates, alchemy was right to try, to experiment, but insufficiently informed as to the components to be combined, to the processes of relating, and to the relevant attending conditions (e.g., heat and pressure).

We have difficult behavioral molecules yet to synthesize. For that challenge we need courage. But mostly we need detailed elaboration of the basic behavioral components we will be putting together.

On this note, let’s turn to Communication and Cognition, where the processes of informing are to be found.

(c) 2010 R. F. Carter


FOOTNOTES (RELATED MATERIALS):
  1. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  2. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  3. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  4. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  5. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  6. Topic IV: Impediments
  7. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  8. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  9. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  10. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  11. C-13. Failing to distinguish
  12. Topic IV: Impediments
  13. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  14. Topic VIII: Singularity Requisite
  15. Topic VII: Functional Requisite
  16. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  17. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  18. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  19. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  20. Topics: Introduction - Quality of Life
  21. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  22. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  23. Topic III: The Nature of Things
  24. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  25. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  26. App. III: Communication and Cognition
  27. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  28. Topic VII: Functional Requisite
  29. Topic X: Construction Imperative
  30. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  31. Topic VI: Control Imperative
  32. Topics: Introduction - Quality of Life
  33. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  34. Topic VIII: Singularity Requisite
  35. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  36. App. III: Communication and Cognition
  37. App. I: Helping
  38. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  39. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  40. Topic XII: Research Methods
  41. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  42. C-10. Community science
  43. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  44. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  45. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  46. Topics: Introduction - Quality of Life
  47. App. III: Communication and Cognition
  48. Topic IV: Impediments
  49. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  50. C-10. Community science
  51. Topic I: Two problems, two solutions
  52. Topic VI: Control Imperative
  53. Topic VII: Functional Requisite
  54. App. III: Communication and Cognition
  55. C-2. The behavioral core
  56. Topic II: All That It Takes (ATIT)
  57. Topic VI: Control Imperative
  58. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  59. Topic VI: Control Imperative
  60. Topic V: Behavioral Manifold
  61. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  62. App. III: Communication and Cognition
  63. Topic VIII: Singularity Requisite
  64. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  65. Topic XI: Balance Requisite
  66. Topic VII: Functional Requisite
  67. Topic X: Construction Imperative
  68. Topic VI: Control Imperative
  69. App. III: Communication and Cognition
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