Group Relations as ritual (from seduction to translation)

Sapochnik, Carlos (2015) Group Relations as ritual (from seduction to translation). Organisational and Social Dynamics, 15 (2). pp. 210-232. ISSN 1474-2780 (Print) ; Online: 2044-3765

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Group relations conferences in the Tavistock tradition make use of psychoanalytic and systemic perspectives to bring into focus group dynamics around boundaries, roles, task, and authority, assisting the participants to move from fragmentation to integration, while considering possible applications of the learning to the individual's organisational life. In spite of commonalities, no two conferences are ever alike—as epitomised by a familiar statement at opening plenaries that neither participants nor staff know what is going to happen in that particular conference. While this may be axiomatic, it also functions as a strategy of ritual seduction. Ritual may be understood as a socially approved practice, a pathological enactment, or even a sinister dimension at the level of a cult. The paper considers how ritual behaviour is in evidence in group relations on the Tavistock model and the functions it may serve, including protecting from a both feared and desired exploration of sexuality. The argument draws from a psychoanalytic understanding of the frame, exploring the nature and need for ritual practices. It considers issues of tradition, leaders as shamanic figures, and the group relations conference as a particular type of performance with the purpose of finding a translation for (and recognition of) socially ambivalent feelings—towards both potential transformation and growth as well as for managing the problematic certitude of the death drive.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Publication date: 01 September 2015
Uncontrolled Keywords: From, Seduction, Translation, Performance; Psychoanalysis, Sexuality
Subjects: Groups & Organisations > Group Processes/Group Dynamics
Psychological Therapies, Psychiatry, Counselling > Psychoanalysis
Department/People: Visiting Lecturer

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