Academic journal article Organisational and Social Dynamics

Soundings: OPUS Global Report 2014

Academic journal article Organisational and Social Dynamics

Soundings: OPUS Global Report 2014

Article excerpt


Members of societies throughout the world are continuing to experience this period in history as one of unprecedented and revolutionary social change that is still increasing in intensity. This includes technological change such as the availability of social networking sites whereby members of societies can be in touch with a large number of people but not in a meaningful way such as will satisfy their human needs. But it is not just about technology it also includes the ideas; including political, social, philosophical, and religious ideas. There is continuing evidence that the experience of members of societies throughout the world is that this period is one of formative changes in the structure of the world economy, the shape of societies, and the framework of world governance. It is leading to the development of a new way of life and a new culture.

The current experiences of members of societies throughout the world is that they are still struggling to make sense of their world; they face overwhelming feelings of confusion, worthlessness and helplessness, impotence, inferiority, humiliation, and scariness; they are fragmented and are forced to flee to the comparative safety of individualism; unable to form any collective response; a tendency to regressing to the paranoid-schizoid position with splitting, aggressive and violent responses; and lacking in almost any form of community. There is a strong dependency on political leaders who are experienced as incapable of providing the required responses. A result is a loss of trust and sense of being failed by politicians and the unmet dependency is located in the family or in local initiatives. The emotional basis of current societal dynamics is experienced as: one against the rest of society; frustration and anger at not having a voice; a withdrawal from society to individualism; every man for himself; an experience of not being recognised and a loss of identity. This leads to feelings of helplessness, impotence, bewilderment, passivity, loneliness, despair, and solitude. A result is disconnection, isolation, lack of integration, a lack of interest and curiosity, and a lack of social commitment. It becomes a selfish society where uncertainty results in a narcissistic focus on self, no reflection, aggressive confrontation and hostility to the "other". A lack of tolerance of difference, lack of compassion, members of societies become insiders and outsiders resulting in an absence of the "other": and experiences of blaming, helplessness, disorientation, a need for acceptance, insecurity, and uncertainty. Splits between in and out groups, create the risk of social polarisation (us and them divisions), disunity, and self-preservation. Members of society are left feeling disconnectedness, powerlessness, fragmented, having a fear of trust in the "other", and polarisation.

As a result of this unprecedented and revolutionary social change, members of societies experience profound levels of insecurity and uncertainty about the future. There is a perceived threat to survival (existence, identity, tradition), which evokes very primitive fears and dependency needs for containment, recognition, and guidance. At a societal level, people look to authority (government, education, employers, the police, health services, and so forth) to meet these needs. Not only do these institutions no longer offer the desired (projected) leadership, they are also experienced as corrupt and abusive by the people they are there to represent and protect. This results in further confusion, helplessness, despair, and sometimes trauma. For members of societies the threat of fragmentation and annihilation becomes reality with governments killing citizens who oppose them and so forth.


Given the above emotional experiences it may not be surprising that members of societies find defensive ways of dealing with their unbearable experiences. Attempts to relieve themselves of this unbearable experience has left them dependent and looking to institutional leadership for relief from their pain. …

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