Friday, 21 December 2012

3b Professional Networking

Having read the professional networking section of the Reader several times, I found it difficult to understand. I therefore decided that it would be easier for me if I broke it down into manageable sections which I could easily digest.


Cooperation is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as 'to assist someone or comply with their requests', I think most people would agree that this is a fairly accurate definition of the word.  In the Reader, however, we are introduced to the notion of cooperation being closely associated with the Game theory and defined as 'the will and way to win'.  This concept is further endorsed by Robert Axelrod, cited in the Reader, who has researched extensively into human behaviour, networking and cooperation.  His theory, asserting that cooperation is based solely on reciprocity, seems selfish and manipulative to me.  The Reader cites the game 'The Prisoners' Dilemma' as researched evidence into the psychology of human nature. In this game, one player succeeds at another's expense with participants cooperating until they reach a certain point and then defecting in order to win. In the game, the object is to win as many coins as possible. Playing the game, I tried the following strategies:

Compete - when I competed I won the game, but I didn't get that many coins
Cooperation - we both got the same amount of coins. Although we got more coins than when I competed, the game was a draw.
Strategically - to win the game and get the most coins, you should cooperate for as long as possible and then - right at the last minute - compete to win the game.  Therefore, one player succeeds at another's expense.

This theory is reinforced by Axelrod, who poses the question: 'in real life would people only co-operate if they were going to gain from it'?  Initially, I strongly disagreed with this theory. However, as I reflected I realised, as Axelrod believed, that it is part of our human nature to compet -, a survival of the fittest mechanism. I believe this is especially true in the entertainment business, where jobs are scarce and friendships can be fickle. 

Whilst at College, I shared a flat with two musical theatre students. Although we were close friends, I can recall numerous occasions where an audition came up and they kept this secret from me to ensure they had a better chance of success. Although the friendship remained, I was left hurt at their actions.

Axelrod's theory made me question myself: would I act in a similar way for personal or professional gain? I'd rather not tell you my answer!! I must admit that there have been times where, although I have collaborated and cooperated with certain individuals during events, I have ditched them as soon as I got what I wanted.  There have been choreographers and colleagues that I have befriended and co-operated with for the sake of the performance, but only until the final curtain came down.

However, having examined the concept of cooperation I can also see that there are times when true relationships are forged following on from initial cooperation. These friendships are founded by an inner respect for each other and a true wish to help each other.


As human beings we have a social need to affiliate with other human beings.  Our personalities are all different and we are drawn to, and respond, to certain characters in others that often mirror our own belief system.  We can all be accused of networking by affiliation - it is human nature to attach yourself to people who you admire or who share the same life experiences as you.  I have close affiliations with people from my old dance school, as we shared some of the most significant moments in our dancing lives and have formed strong, lasting bonds.  Some of these friends now form a large part of my professional network as they are teachers, choreographers and dance agents which can be a distinct advantage to me as a performer.

Crisp, J. & Turner, R (2007), believe that our upbringing and culture influence our desire to affiliate.  I believe I am a sociable person, I like to fit in and to belong. Perhaps this comes from being part of a large family as I am used to feeling involved and this in-turn feeds my desire to affiliate and socialise with others.

There are, however, those people who affiliate with others just to see what they can get from them and, sadly, in this industry there are many prepared to do this.


My main sources of connection are the internet and my iPhone.  I recently had my phone stolen and I was devastated. I realised how much I depend on it - I felt like I'd lost a friend and became disconnected from the outside world.

Undertaking the BAPP course shows how advanced the use of technology in teaching has become. This course can be accessed from anywhere in the world, as long as the student has access to the internet.  We are learning through blogs, YouTube, Wiki's and interaction with each other. We are taking control of our own learning, moving away from the traditional educational methods.  Personally, I do believe that there is still a place for a 'teacher' in the traditional sense, as some students may not be capable of being self-directed and autonomous and may feel threatened by the use of new technology.  It can be difficult for me at times to feel connected and I wonder whether I would feel more comfortable in a classroom being afforded face to face teaching as the responsibility for my learning would then be shared.  But we are, as Laura Weir in her blog points out 'Students of connectivism',  and this, it seems, is the future.

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