Unfamiliarity or lack of collective efficacy
I’m fascinated by the panic induced by the ‘hung parliament’ in the UK.
Turning our urban soullessness into a village square
Earlier today, I went shopping in the TESCO superstore. Those superstores are soulless and too big to shop in comfortably but in theory, everything is there. My logic in darkening their doorway is that they have a fresh fish counter and I can find the rarer items, like popcorn and sea salt, that I can’t get in my local Co-0p.
The reality though, is that the marketers have taken possession of the store and goods are not longer in categories. I wanted little capers and following the logic that older English people might have cooked a fish pie in a forgotten world, I picked on elderly shoppers to ask if they had seen any. The first person was looking for poppy seeds; the next was looking for butter beans. I sent the second to speak to the first – he found his beans. Then he helped me find vanilla extract for my porridge (next to the flour not next herbs and spices – that’s where you find vanilla pod).
What is the point of my repeating his minutiae of English living? Well, it is this – when we work together, we both enjoy the shopping experience and complete it more successfully. I also learned a lot about older people’s use of computers, family finances and the English diaspora. Many English people have children and grand-children living abroad.
Do the English like being alienated?
And I learned about attitudes to politics.
As a general rule, English people don’t want to know about politics. They change channels when politics come on. They think I am daft for thinking the current negotiations in Westminster are very healthy.
When in doubt though, I think that when we put our minds together we can work anything out. And it is fun, too. I would prefer to be wrong for trying to get people together than to wallow in learned helplessness.
But then maybe I don’t get. After all I was feeling depressed about the political system on election day and it is the current process that makes me feel the system work. I could be wrong again.
The psychologically powerful factor called collective efficacy
Psychologically, trusting other people is a spiral-effect. We trust, we act together, we succeed, we trust more.
Collective efficacy is immensely powerful. Extending research in schools and the work of management theorists at Case Western, just emphasizing where we are competent and where we believe each other to be competent, will give us an economic boost.
Think 10%. That’s a lot. No amount of money thrown at a problem produces that effect.
But to get that effect, we have to take the first step. We have to acknowledge each others competence.
We know other people are not good at everything. They don’t need to be.
We just have to hat tip what they are good at.