Participatory sense-making

Together with Ezequiel Di Paolo, we have extended the enactive concept of sense-making into the social domain. It takes as its departure point the process of interaction between individuals in a social encounter. It is a well-established finding that individuals can and generally do coordinate their movements and utterances in such situations. We argue that the interaction process itself can take on a form of autonomy (operationally defined). This allows us to reframe the problem of social cognition as that of how meaning is generated and transformed in the interplay between the unfolding interaction process and the individuals engaged in it. The notion of sense-making in this realm becomes participatory sense-making. This notion defines a spectrum of participation, from simpler cases of orientation of individual sense-making to joint sense-making (exemplified in acts that can only be completed socially, like the act of handing over an object). The onus of social understanding thus moves away from strictly the individual only.