Sense-Making
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372 A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s sense-mAking mAp loCAtion D, 4 threAD loCAtion Page 25 sCApe Importance of Theory and Deep Concepts Sense-Making a relevant theory is Author Todd Marshall Agreement DesCription “Sense-making” and “sensemaking” may be pronounced the same, are almost written the same, and are based on similar constructivist perspectives , but they are not the same. When speaking about individuals making sense of their world and their environment, two prominent ideas lead this discussion. The first is “Sense-Making” as championed by Brenda Dervin (Dervin & Nilan, 1986), and the second is “sensemaking ” by Karl E. Weick (Weick, 1995).1 Sensemaking according to Weick will be the adopted approach, but because of the similarity in terminology and to remove the possibility of confusion, Dervin’s approach deserves a brief overview first. Dervin’s Sense-Making focuses on the individual as he or she moves through time and space. As this happens, gaps are encountered where the individual must “make sense” of the situation to move, physically or cognitively, across the gap. The key components in this process are the situation, gap, and uses. The situation is the context of the user, the gap is that which prevents movement, and the use is the application of the sense that is constructed (Dervin, 1999). In this sense, Dervin’s approach is monadic because it focuses on the individual and the sense that the individual makes as he or she is trying to cross the gap. This is in contrast to Weick, who focuses on group sensemaking as at least dyadic but more often triadic or polyadic. In other words, Weick focuses on multiple people working together to make sense. Although this contrast between the group and the individual is significant, Dervin’s approach has the same philosophical roots as Weick’s. Dervin (1999) states: “I have described Sense-Making as a constructivist approach, while now I describe it as post-constructivist , or postmodern modernist” (p. 730). Although Weick and Dervin have both been associated with constructivism, Dervin does not directly link Weick’s sensemaking with her own Sense-Making but as one of many “parallel approaches” (Dervin et al., 2005). 1. Because the wording of Dervin and Weick’s terminology are so close, “Sense-Making” will be used when referring to Dervin’s concept and “sensemaking” will be used when referring to Weick’s concept. This follows each author’s conventions. Figure 218 A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s 373 There are many uses of the term sense making as phenomena in the literature (spelled myriad different ways) which have no relationship to Sense Making Methodology. For example Weick’s (Weick, 1995) Sensemaking in organizations looking at organizational life by examining the phenomenon [of] sensemaking. (Dervin, 1999, p. 729) Although Dervin does not link Weick to her work, they both follow a constructivist approach. This is demonstrated especially by Weick’s conceptualization of equivocality (Weick & Sutcliffe, 2001, p. 10). In contrast to Dervin, Weick’s major works do cite Dervin or trace his conceptualizations to her work (Weick, 1969, 1993, 1995, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007; Weick & Roberts, 1993; Weick & Sutcliffe, 2001; Weick, Sutcliffe, & Obstfeld, 2005; Wenger, 1999, 2001, 2005a, 2005b; Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002; Wenger & Snyder, 2000; Wenger, White, Smith, & Rowe, 2005). There are other constructivist approaches that one could consider, such as Habermas. However, as one researcher under the supervision of Brenda Dervin stated: “I suggest that current theory based upon Habermas’ theories of communicative action and the public sphere may be too limited for describing grounded communicative practice within online environments ” (Schaefer, 2001, p. ii). In summary, Weick’s view of sensemaking as a group activity is more relevant for library communities than Dervin’s monadic approach, which focuses on individual SenseMaking . Therefore, the discussion now focuses on Weick. The theoretical framework for the organizational perspective of this study will be that of sensemaking as described by Karl E. Weick in Sensemaking in Organizations (Weick, 1995) and Managing the Unexpected : Assuring High Performance in an Age of Complexity (Weick & Sutcliffe, 2001). These works were foreshadowed in his first book, The Social Psychology of Organizing (Weick, 1969). Sensemaking had its foundations in several significant case studies where Weick investigated complex situations to understand how human beings tried to make sense out of seemingly contradictory information. The majority of Weick’s...



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  • Library science -- Philosophy.
  • Library science -- Forecasting.
  • Libraries and community.
  • Libraries and society.
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