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Helle Sigetty Strømgaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


This dissertation address, in a systems theory second order observation perspective, how dialogue can be observed through play. How play in organizations is assigned organizational functions and thus can be seen as modern steering technologies. The main question raised is: How does play organize dialogue as organizational practice? Play is articulated in many ways. Play is not a unique size; the threshold for judging play is very much an empirical question. Based on Johan Huizinga and Gregory Bateson, an opinion on how the form of play can be observed is given. In summary the form of play is defined as: ‘the acts we now engage in, does not denote, what these acts, these acts denotes, would denote / the acts we now engage in, denotes, what these acts denotes, would denote. It is pointed out how play sets a horizon of expectations such as: fun, seriousness, surrounding, voluntary, 'as if' and limited in time and space. It is shown how dialougegames organizes dialogue through their gametechnologies. The playing dialogue, is not the same as dialogue outside of the games. By instituting distinctions that can be reduced, the playing dialogue communicates: openness, freedom, balanced, focused, reflected and without consequence. By doing this, the games marks experience and removes action (consequence) from the dialogue. It is pointed out that playing dialogue has a risk of becoming doublebinded. That is that participants can find them self in a position where they neither can say yes nor no. If they say yes, they may have to exceed their own personal limits and give more of themselves than they are comfortable with. If they say no, they will be told that it is just game! Dialoguegames as steeringtechnologies provides the opportunity to manage dialogue that is not normally manageable. With the technologies organizations can decide when to play dialogue, who should play and about what they play. Dialoguegames as technologies manage to create dialogue across borders, both by being able to include participants from different (usually not manageable) systems and by playing with the participants limits of personality. In this way the playing dialogue creates new meaningful steering relations. This would not be possible without power being invisible behind the form of play. The modern power steps forward as withdrawal and invisibilizing of power, placed in the technologies and hidden behind the intention of empowerment. The dissertation concludes that play organizes dialogue as organizational practice because the playing dialogue has influence on the social practice of the participants. Whether the playing dialogue afterwards is referred to as play or decision, the dialogue creates reflection and thereby recognition. The dialoguegames as steeringtechnologies also becomes part of the organizational practice because they become part of the organizations routines like other technologies. They become playing talk that creates playing power.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2008
Number of pages99