What do you know about Culture Patterns?

I’ve been reviewing the patterns on scrumbook.org, and specifically searching for patterns, practices or insights on culture.

Thurs far, among other things (the search function works pretty well) I’ve found Follow the Moon, which is essentially advocates for paying attention to natural rhythms in the scheduling of work. This (and @daviding’s helpful habit of inverting for insight) reminds me of Doctorow’s The City of Coordinated Leisure.

Essentially, the book (and pre-pub material) summarizes its position best, IMO, with a statement roughly equated to (verbatim) 'Culture* plays out in habits, and changing habits is difficult."

I’m looking for practical insight on culture development and culture change, and in particular considering much less so the ‘top-down’ ‘design of culture’, and more so the Archipelagian or generative system approach, wherein the simple rules are set and enforced, and the results are varied and (hopefully) locally appropriate. This is why I tagged Panarchy, which I partly associate with the non-hierarchical organizing theory sets.

I wonder if anyone here has spent much time considering the topic, and whether anything practical has fallen out of those considerations.

For posterity, I’m writing partly out of interest, and partly because I’m recently likely to join a ‘culture of sustainability’ research/implementation group out of UW.

I’ve also read the note re: “Pattern language is not for wicked problems”. I’m not sure culture qualifies as a wicked problem, but I find the term overused generally.

The second thing, as David mentioned elsewhere, is that individual patterns may not be helpful/useful/used properly, as the language aspect is just as relevant as the pattern itself.

I may be barking up the wrong tree, but it seemed worth asking.

1 Like

There’s multiple ideas in your question, @Gryph.

Outside of the ScrumPLoP community in pattern language, there’s interest in the Purplsoc (Pursuit of Pattern Languages for Societal Change). The proceedings are available as downloadable PDFs.

I’ve been active with the Purplsoc community, based primarily with the university in Krems, Austria. They were alternating annual meetings with PUARL (Portland Urban Architecture Research Lab). The 2018 PUARL conference actually colocated following the 2018 PLoP conference. Unfortunately, there were only a handful of individuals crossing over from one conference to the other. Further, I was part of the conversation about a possible Purplsoc 2019 meeting, but that didn’t come about. There have been life changes (e.g. retirements) amongst some of the leaders of the community, so some critical energy has been lost.

Still, having some conference proceedings helps you know what people are thinking. Most people are staying close to the Christopher Alexander approach. I’ve been more radical, with deeper explorations of the ties between pattern language and systems thinking, as well as critical views of the underlying philosophy of science.

I was looking into this in Open Innovation Learning, specifically in …

  • 9.5.1 Learning-alongside is agencing strands of polyrhythmia entangling eurhythmia
    … where I was looking into chronos and kairos.

Innovation learning of polyrhythmia alongside eurhymthia challenges the balancing of “what is inside the head” with “what the head is inside”. [441] Philosophical perspectives on time contrast event time (as subjective) with clock time (as objective), and alternatively more formally as chronos and kairos. [442] Progress includes the unfolding of life both inwardly and outwardly. [443]

  • [442] Chronos and kairos have been recognized since ancient Greek philosophers.
    "Chronos is ‘the chronological, serial time of succession. . .time measured by the chronometer not by purpose’ … it is typically used to measure the timing or duration of some action. . In contrast, kairos, named after the Greek god of opportunity, refers to ‘the human and living time of intentions and goals … the time not of measurement but of human activity, of opportunity’ … While rhetoricians have always seen chronos as objective and quantitative, they have long debated the status of kairotic time. Some believe it is given and independent of the actor, … Increasingly, however, rhetoricians has suggested the kairos is shaped by the actor … (Orlikowski and J. Yates, 2002, p. 686)

  • [443] An organism develops structure both internally, and externally.
    “… the vital genesis of bios proceeds. Its progressive steps crystalize in a multiple motio. Hence, it crystalizes in ‘time,’ which lends it a ‘moment’ of fulfillment, the measure of the step onward in the process of growth or decline. Each constructive advance of individualizing life (e.g., the opening of the petals of a flower, the rise of the sap of a tree in early spring, the cross-pollination of flowering plum trees effected by insects,…) is a result of a bundle of results—of numerous operations and processes, each of them crystalizing segments of time that flow together to work a change, a transformation, a moment of constructive progress. Advance is not the effect of a single cause, nor does it singlehandedly contribute or effectuate another change. On the contrary, each occurrence in the course of bios’ unfolding is significant in various inward/outward radiating directions (inwardly, the opening of a flower is a phase preparatory to fruition; outwardly, it is the opening of a source of nectar that nourishes bees, wasps, hummingbirds, etc.)” (Tymieniecka, 2009, pp.205-206).

  • [444] The unique sound of The Police was produced by a creative tension between rock/punk and reggae. “Punk is rhythmically explicit because it saturates the rhythmic texture with eight-beat timekeeping. Reggae, by contrast, is rhythmically implicit, because the most consistent rhythms are all afterbeats. The other rhythm lines, especially the bass, move freely, creating a rhythmic fabric of unparalleled lightness. (Campbell and Brody 1999)” (Hesselink, 2014, p. 72).

Research into rhythms is relatively new: “Why Do Philosophers Have No Rhythm?” | Jenny Judge | 2016 … so it’s not likely in many in the pattern language community will go there.

This gets us rapidly into the ideas of Disclosing New Worlds (Spinosa, Flores and Dreyfus) and Social Reproduction of Practice (from Pierre Bourdieu, not to be confused with the Social Reproduction of Structure by Anthony Giddens.

This foundations in a social theory of learning (better described as situated learning) are covered in my lecture on “How do Systems Changes become natural practice” | March 18, 2020.

Research coming from the Resilience Alliance has developed into a theme of Social-Ecological Systems, but these are generally ecologists, and not sociologists.

Again, we’re straying form the pattern language community, that tends to be more structuralists.

Actually, I would say that the language is MORE important than the pattern itself. Observing a single or two patterns isn’t a big deal. The question is how they fit together … that brings us to the idea of mereology. The one person in the pattern language community whom I’m noted actually recognizes mereology is Michael Mehaffy, see “Horizons of Pattern Languages: Software, Cities, Planet”, PLoP 2017

1 Like

[441][442] etc… what’s the point of reference on this? I searched them here on OIL, but I’m only returning this post, and coevolving doesn’t seem to be getting me there.

I’m finding Social Reproduction of Practice/Disclosing New Worlds particularly interesting

The authors reason that human beings are at their best when engaged in imaginative and practical innovation rather than in abstract reflection, and thus challenging accepted wisdom and conventional practices within their particular environment, or as the authors claim, when they are making history. History-making, in this account, refers not to political power changes, wars or violent revolution, but to changes in the way people understand their personal qualities and deal with their particular situations. [straight from wiki]

I am indeed confused on the difference re: Social Reproduction of Practice and Social Reproduction of Structure. Not least because Social Reproduction (root) “refers to the emphasis on the structures and activities” (“that transmit inequality” it goes on to say… - but I’m already considering the potential for other transference).

I wonder how something like this would interact with localism, and more generally questions of scale.

I’m for some reason also thinking here of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and wondering where it may lie in relation to the above. At least one paper cites both [source]

I’m also thinking about some of my reading on VC (Venture Capitalist) behaviour recently. When asked whether they learn more from their good investments or their bad, the response I’ve heard it more than once (and without citation - could be memetic) is [paraphrased] “the good investments teach me a lot about others, the bad investments teach me a lot about myself”

All of this is kind of circling around my original point of inquiry though - how does culture change over time? What’s the relationship of an actor wishing to facilitate and be a causal agent in that change (particularly top down), vs spontaneous order in the absence of exactly this form of agent/actor, potentially even agency? Not only that, but from a longer term perspective, in what environmental conditions does the absence of control lead to what outcomes?

It seems to me that from the time one identifies any clean cut example, an opportunity arises for an actor of that same sort to step in.

In my masters work I spent a lot of time navel gazing around ‘order beyond control’, and found difficulty when considering market-based mechanisms, in particular. I didn’t get too far beyond that point - once you factor in time, things get weird.

The discussion in polyrhymia was based on your …

Much of the thinking on synthesizing parts into a whole tends to orient more about thinking in space, rather than thinking in time. What is the natural rhythm for work, when there is individuals each with a different pace, and then a group (that may include a specific individual) that is presumed to be moving together. Does work get slowed down to the slowest person on the team? Or is that individual being more careful, in which case errors are lower?

Social reproduction of practice was demonstrated with Pierre Bourdieu in Algeria, 1960. French advisors suggested to farmers that land be terraced to increase productivity. There was resistance to change. Why? Because the social practices had been reproduced for generations, so why should they change?

Social reproduction of structure isn’t about what people do, but arrangements that persist. e.g. rich families are networked in institutions that replicate themselves over time, or private universities that favour the children of alumni in their admissions.

The lineage of the two camps for social reproduction are different. Social reproduction of practice has tended to towards “continental” philosophers, whereas social reproduction of structure has tended to come from the Anglos.

From a social theory perspective, this work is commonly cited in the works focused on power relations, and on education. These are all tangled up, in the literature.

There’s a variety of approaches to that question, and a lot depends on how you define culture. This is why we spend so much time citing specific authors and researchers. Each individual has his or her own system of ideas. I’ve been known to say that, in the systems community, many of us stand about one foot apart, and we argue about the inches. In the meantime, the rest of the world is far away, and think that we are (or should be) united under a single (systems thinking) flag. That not the way that open systems work.

Here’s an example of a phrase that I personally don’t use, because it doesn’t fit with the researchers that I most follow. What does spontaneous mean to you, and what branch of knowledge does it bring for you? The only way I would use the word is as “spontaneous combustion”, which is a physical phenomenon, but should we apply a similar concept to human behaviour? (I’m not actually asking you to answer that question. If you know what you know, that’s fine. However, it would take longer for me to unpack where you’re coming from, if you don’t cite a source for the metaphor).

Again, this isn’t language that I tend to use. I’m pretty firmly in the camp of General Systems Theory – not that I agree with everything, but it’s a ballpark – and less on cybernetics. If your use of the term control comes from cybernetics, then it has meaning to you that it might not to me.

1 Like
Creative Commons Licence Contributions to the Open Learning Commons are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Please honor the spirit of collective open learning by citing the author(s) in the context of a dialogue and/or linking back to the original source.