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The Meaning of Participation

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image of Journal of Phenomenological Psychology

Though there are few more pervasive features of the social world than the ebb and flow of individual participation, the literature only provides hints as to its phenomenology. The phenomenological investigation of social participation presented in this paper indicates that it essentially entails: 1. Attunement to the others' "stock of knowledge at hand" (though a non-cognitive understanding of this Schutzian term is necessary). 2. Emotional and motivational attunement to the group's concerns. 3. Taking for granted (and implicitly assuming the others take it for granted) that one can contribute appropriately. 4. Being able to assume that one's identity is not under threat. Though the implications can only be touched on in this paper, the phenomenological clarification of participation is a valuable resource, grounding many lines of research of contemporary significance-for instance, in education and the other "person professions" and in social policy and political science-and suggesting fruitful new perspectives.

Affiliations: 1: Learning and Teaching Institute, Sheffield Hallam University


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