Academic journal article Organisational and Social Dynamics

Soundings: OPUS Global Report 2015

Academic journal article Organisational and Social Dynamics

Soundings: OPUS Global Report 2015

Article excerpt


Over the past decade and more, members of societies throughout the world have experienced this period in history as one of unprecedented and revolutionary social change. Much of this change began and continues with technological developments such as the availability of social networking. A further effect of technological change was to pave the way for globalisation which, adopted policies of freedom of movement of people, freedom of movement of capital, and international outsourcing of manufacturing. This has led to massive immigration, the economic crisis, a widening of the gap between rich and poor; as well as changes in the ideas; including political, social, philosophical, and religious ideas. Taken together, members of societies have experienced the totality of change as a huge loss: what we have referred to as death of a way of life. This experience is shared by all societies, the used and the users; the rich and the poor; resulting in a clash of cultures where international and intra-national, fundamentalists have been mobilised to seize the opportunity to ferment conflict and fear.

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. All societies are struggling to make sense of their world and finding it difficult to adapt to a new way of life. At this point it seems impossible for members of societies to imagine what a new way of life would be like or even begin to create one. Economic outsourcing to multiple countries and incoming economic immigration has created greater integration of peoples of different race, religion, political belief, and traditions. However, it has also served to highlight the differences, not least, the differences between the wealthy and the poor, be that at a national or personal level within societies. In some instances, the threats to personal and national boundaries has led to far left and far right political parties vying for power. In addition, it has resulted in the presence of fundamentalists within the host society; those who can be easily convinced of the inherent need to revert to extreme religious or cultural beliefs.


The current experience of members of societies throughout the world is that they are still struggling to make sense of their world. Admiration was expressed for the large numbers of people who demonstrated in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. This stirred the interest of members of several societies as being an example of how people could come together as a community. Indeed there are (continuing from last year) stirrings of a wish to join with others in a common cause. There is though, little evidence that this can be achieved in a depressive position way. The most common experience is people coming together to commit acts of violence and terrorism: all involving splitting at an extreme level, to the extent that the other is seen as inhuman and exists to be destroyed. Even the Paris demonstration is to be seen as a paranoid-schizoid activity, being against terrorism and idealising those who were slaughtered. Failing to see, or want to see, that through the publication of the cartoons considerable offence was caused to fellow Muslim members of French society: as well as to Muslims the world over. These acts themselves had fomented rage and hatred, a far cry from the supposed humour allegedly intended by the cartoonists.

There appears to be a sense of overwhelming uncertainty about the future, about the changes that are taking place and pessimism about what the world is going to be like. Members of societies experience helplessness and despair and are struggling to find their way in this rapidly changing world. Turning to authority figures and to leadership for answers does not seem to be an option; leadership is not considered to be trustworthy, consistent, and insightful-far from it. …

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