Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Posts Tagged ‘stages’

The Generality of Adult Development Stages and Transformations: Comparing Meaning-making and Logical Reasoning

Tom Hagström and Kristian Stålne

Abstract: Human development theories differ in “context sensitivity,” covering those stressing development stages and those stressing continuously progressing changes. The former theories differ in whether, how and why the stages are regarded as being generalized across domains, i.e. their generality claims. Piaget’s developmental stage theory of logical complexity of children and adolescents fulfill “strong” such claims, including fixed stage sequentiality of increasing complexity levels and higher stage structures integrating earlier ones. His theory has inspired a number of adult development stage theories with varying generality claims. These provide suggestions of stages and stage transitions reaching beyond “pure” cognition, integrating more of e.g. emotional, value and moral dimensions. From a neo-Piagetian perspective, core generality aspects seem to concern on the one hand logical reasoning and on the other hand meaning-making. This raises questions of how these aspects are related to each other in terms of stage structures and transformations.

The aim of the article is to discern general features in adult development stage structures and transitions, in terms of logical reasoning and meaning making. This is carried out by a “thought experiment” interrelating two theories that differ in these respects but that are both based on Piaget’s theory, namely Robert Kegan’s constructive developmental Subject-Object Theory (SOT) and Michael Common´s behaviouristic Model of Hierarchical Complexity (MHC). This comparing approach concerns the 3rd, 4th and 5th order of consciousness as well as transitions between these according to SOT, and order 9 to 12 and corresponding transitions according to MHC. The thought experiment indicates that the generality claims of both models can be argued for without one of them necessarily being subordinated to the other one. Both theories are interpreted as differing but partly overlapping structures of coherence, while also being involved in transformative thesis-antithesis-synthesis processes. The possible interrelatedness between logical reasoning and meaning making is considered and discussed, as well as the relevance of differing generality claims, and contrasting subjectivistic and objectivistic “scientific positions.” Finally, it is argued for the need of contextualizing adult development theory and research by relating it to postindustrial societal demands and challenges in terms of e.g. a “transform-actional” approach.”

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The Meaning-making of Dag Hammarskjöld

Kristian Stålne

Abstract: Dag Hammarskjöld, United Nations’ second Secretary-General 1954-1961, is getting recent attention for two reasons: he is going to front the new Swedish 1000-kronor note, the highest value; and this September it was 50 years since he was killed in an airplane crash in UN service in Congo. With that event, the most successful career in an international service that a Swede has ever had was terminated prematurely, a service that would set an unmistakable imprint on the UN organization as well as on the world stage of politics. But what made Dag Hammarskjöld such an exceptional leader and how did he view the world and his role in it? He was not only exceptional as a leader and world-centric visionary; he was also a mystic and an aesthetician with a highly analytic mind. What is unique is the fact that large parts of his thinking and personal struggling are available to the world through a dense material of his speeches and personal writings. This has made it possible to analyse the stages of development represented in them. Using ego development theory, described by Jane Loevinger as well as Robert Kegan, I offer the analysis that his writings, including during his most severe personal crisis, indicate he passed through a transition between the individualist and autonomous stages.

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Using Developmental Theory: When Not to Play Telephone Games

Sara Nora Ross

Abstract: As a powerful way to help understand the behaviors of people and social groupings of all kinds, developmental stage theory attracts attention and use outside of purely academic environments. These uses take the form of written materials and many kinds of interventions. The level of accuracy of developmental theory information generated and used outside of academe demonstrates wide variety. This variety is reflected in materials and interventions. The information used in materials and interventions becomes increasingly distorted as it becomes further removed from original theoretical sources. This has major implications for the ethics and expertise issues that are inherent in applied developmental theory. A classification scheme of information-use behaviors, many of which contribute to distortion processes, is used to code actual cases of creating and disseminating distorted developmental theory information, invoking the metaphor of telephone games. Case evidence indicates that casual, illustrative figures in a 2006 book by Wilber were used by others for various serious and theoretical purposes, and resulted in major distortions of developmental theory. Wilber’s figures represent problematic issues and errors, including distortion of theory, if they are used—as they indeed were—for any purpose more serious than his original purpose. Stemming from those issues and errors, a highly distorted picture of cognitive development and a pseudo-version of Commons and Richards’ Model of Hierarchical Complexity theory emerged, telephone game-like, in the cases discussed. Errors were widely propagated on the internet. Because outside of academe, specialized expertise in developmental theory is difficult to acquire, the sub-field of applied developmental theory requires not only accurate information but also strong communication ethics to govern behaviors of information providers. Such providers need to protect themselves at the same time they protect and inform consumers of their information. This process of knowledge sharing and knowledge building can be shaped by adopting guidelines and a basic operating principle proposed here. Guidelines and principles, without institutionalization, are insufficient support. A new Institute of Applied Developmental Theory could provide the supports, standards, and effectiveness the sub-field of applied developmental theory needs if its power to address 21st century challenges, which sorely need it, is to be realized.

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