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Telling stories and the practice of collaboration

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Stories and the telling of stories constitute an important, even major part of our daily life. How this happens is not clearly understood. Sometimes stories are seen therefore as a last area where the scientific mind has no access and no voice. Sometimes they are seen as its next area of development. This paper is about the ways in which stories challenge the notions of knowledge that are common in the ‘classical’ scientific tradition. It also is about the function of stories in the collaborative, interpersonal and inter-organisational dynamics of the way knowledge is built up in daily life. Stories increase people’s awareness of their cultural and human heritage. The paper will, firstly, explore changes in the notion of knowledge (and what is considered scientific method). It identifies various genealogies in which previous limitations on the experiences to be included in knowledge were extended. Among these extensions is the inclusion of the experience of uncertainty as well as the experience of intention. Secondly, the paper will look at experiences that link to the telling of stories, and explore the way they challenge as well as link to previous notions and extensions of knowledge. A core characteristic of stories and their telling is an increase in people’s awareness of others as sources of intentional variation. A number of examples will be presented to illustrate the point – for instance increasing this kind of knowledge to reduce (too) early pregnancy and resistance to imposed models of behaviour.

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