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Towards a theory of work group mentalities: the case against singularity and unanimity

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This article confronts Bion's psychological group theory with the author's experience of participating in grouping processes. After presenting some motives in the introduction, a generic theory about work group mentalities is proposed and exemplified.
Under productive circumstances people appear able to deploy a range of mentalities that utilise the sophisticated aspect of their grouping potential. Building on Bion's construct group mentality, the author claims that work group mentalities are neither singular nor necessarily unanimous among all individuals involved (different from what Bion asserted about getting swamped by a mentality proper to the primitive aspect of grouping). This claim is illustrated by four work group mentalities, described with their conditions and characteristics, as distinct ways of delimiting one's experience independently from how other people think.
The transition between different work group mentalities shifts the experience from being involved in one characteristic grouping process to another. As yet, it is unclear when these shifts are sociogenic, or triggered purposefully by agency of the individual or other actants. To find answers to that question, the first step is constructing a validable conceptual framework, a language in which to think about grouping anew. The article is intended to be a contribution to this end.
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Keywords: BION; CONFRONTATION; GROUP MENTALITY; GROUP RELATIONS; UNIFICATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2020

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  • Organisational and Social Dynamics is a forum for the publication of theoretical and applied papers that are relevant and accessible to an international readership; and, one where writers from psychoanalytic, group relations, and systems perspectives can address emerging issues in organisations and societies throughout the world.

    It aims to sustain a creative tension between scientific rigour and popular appeal, both developing conversations with the professional and social scientific world and opening up these conversations to practitioners and reflective citizens everywhere. We wish to attract manuscripts from contributors who are aware of their own values, suppositions and assumptions, the influence of counter-transference in their work, whatever form it takes, and the ability to connect the internal world of individuals and groups with societal and global processes.
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