what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Friday, July 15, 2011

People types and a plea for slow politics

I’m a sucker for labels! By that, I mean I enjoy people classifications. It was probably Jung’s introvert/extrovert distinction which first impacted on me and I remember, twenty years ago, a book which looked at three scenarios for the future - "Retrenchment", "Assertive Materialism", "Caring Autonomy" - and how different groups are likely to respond to them viz the self-explorers, the social resisters, the conspicuous consumers and belongers, and the survivors and the aimless (the book was Millenium - toward tomorrow's society by Francis Kinsman). Those particular labels were, however, a bit confusing.
I prefer when the labels emerge from a simple matrix; for my work, one useful matrix has people plotted on one axis on the basis of their „agreement with the change” and on the basis of „trustworthiness” on the other – to give 5 types – allies, adversaries, bedfellows, opponents and fence sitters. In 2000, Malcolm Gladwell’s famous book The Tipping Point argued that the attainment of the "tipping point" (that transforms a phenomenon into an influential trend) usually requires the intervention of a number of influential types of people. On the path toward the tipping point, many trends are ushered into popularity by small groups of individuals that can be classified as Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. Connectors are individuals who have ties in many different realms and act as conduits between them, helping to engender connections, relationships, and “cross-fertilization” that otherwise might not have ever occurred. Mavens are people who have a strong compulsion to help other consumers by helping them make informed decisions. Salesmen are people whose unusual charisma allows them to be extremely persuasive in inducing others’ buying decisions and behaviors.
And we mustn’t forget Belbin’s team roles and test.
I remembered all this when I saw this article in today’s Guardian which quotes from an ongoing research study in Britain which has suggested its citizens can be classified in three ways - Pioneers, Prospectors and Settlers

I mentioned the UK government’s White Paper on Open Public Services yesterday; and Owen Abroad’s blog alerted me to an inquiry the House of Lords is currently running on Overseas Aid.
It should be fairly obvious from this blog that (whatever my gripes about UK political leaders) I am a fan of the "classical model of british government” – a combination of rhetoric and "golden age” quasi-practice of –
• The judgement and "institutional memory” of career civil servants balancing the impatience and naivete of politicians who enjoy power for only a limited period
• Strategic statements of government intent being published as "Green” papers – with interest groups (or "stakeholders” in the modern jargon) being properly consulted
• Policies being reviewed not by "one-off” technical evaluations – but by submissions to a parliamentary body which are then cross-examined those with knowledge and experience and issued cross-party reports

It's time for a taste of "slow" politics - it was Tony Bliar who turned British governments into 24-hour media fixated machines. Hopefully the present media scandal there will encourage politicians also to look at this fixation.
And finally a marvellous commentary (and video) by the man who exposed the dirty tricks.

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