Collaboration versus organisation: the disposable shared ideal
(University of Paris Nanterre)
Paper short abstract:
I will show through the ethnography of a theatrical project in France that without an ethics of responsibility a collaborative team (a shared goal) is weaker than an organisation (a shared goal plus the relation with an environment) because a shared ideal is more easily disposable than reputation.
Paper long abstract:
The philosopher John Searle asserts that no pre-notion of togetherness is needed for engaging in joint action: collective (we) intentionality suffices. As anthropologists, we were generally considering that the existence of a community and of a feeling of belonging is necessary for the production of joint action and we spent lots of energy describing the bonds that link individuals together in a community or inquiring into their 'identity', as a prerequisite for explaining their action. The analytical individualism of Searle has been criticized by Margaret Gilbert from the normative angle: when we form collective intentions, we create obligations and responsibilities among us, of which Searle makes a meager account. For her, joint action would rather be the result of such joint commitments (also called mutual obligations) than of shared goals. I will show in this paper through the ethnography of a theatrical project in France that without an ethics of responsibility a collaborative team (characterised by a shared goal) is weaker than an organisation (characterised by a shared goal plus the relation with an environment) because the shared ideal is more easily disposable (or why Searle is wrong while Gilbert may be right). Even in such a strong case of collaboration as is a live performance, where the shared goal is creating a common body on the stage- a strong emotional experience for each participant-, the endurance of this collaborative body is dependent on the link with the outside world, its « reputation », i.e. its existence as an organisation.
Collaboratively assembling persons