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in. This is not about being causally, individually “acted upon” but a more definitive
partnership approach to “acting with” as a shift to a more powerful collaborative stance.
“The vision of relational being will invite us, then, to set aside the freedom/determinism
opposition, and to consider the world in terms of relational confluence” (Gergen, 2009, xvi).
There are infinite ways to interpret, value, and understand the world around us (Anderson &
Gehart, 2007, p. 9). The idea of where we focus our attention is critical to how we perceive
the world. We have all had the experience of family members, living within the same
household, having radically different views of their upbringing even with the same parents
and similar circumstances. This happens because engagement is not causal but one of
connective possibilities. Our reality a place where meaning, thoughts, knowledge and
truth comingle is continuously being reviewed, changed, and challenged as we move
through life with others. Reality offers infinite programming possibilities and our choices are
only limited by our attention span, the ability to take in a multiplicity of ideas, or whether we
feel a need to censor conflicting attitudes. What social construction does offer is the
knowledge that it is through our relationships that transformative dialogue is possible:
Perhaps the key feature of conversational partnership is the capacity of individuals
to value the other’s participation in a conversation. When we think of
meaning as originating in the minds of single individuals, we are often ‘fault
finding.’ What if their ideas trample on mine?’ or ‘What if their plan is better than
mine?’ we might ask. When we realize that meaning is co-constructed, that it
requires more than one to ‘make’ an idea, then a premium is placed on mutual
valuing as opposed to ego-centric competition. (Anderson et al, 2008, p. 26)
As Dian Marie Hosking notes, “The view that relational processes construct realities has
major implications for all inquiry and change work” and allows us to make a leap that not
only recognizes multiple voices but also invites this polyvocal engagement into the change
process. “The shift to appreciation is a way of recognizing that we are always already in
the middle of relational realities and therefore without secure grounds either for claiming self
as superior (e.g., more knowing) or for critique of Other” (Hosking, 2008, p. 683).
We are a socially constructed work-in-progress with an extensive multi-layered history and
relational web that is always evolving and pushing up against different disciplines, ideas and
boundaries, entering new fields, while changing our self and others on the journey. As giant
amoeba-like, relationally fed shape shifters our relational history shapes us and in turn we
shape history.
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