14 Questions About Belonging

We talk about ‘belonging’ a great deal: how we belong to communities, belong at work, or belong within a culture. But what does ‘belonging’ mean, and what happens when it goes wrong?

As part of a reflective activity, one may ask the following questions:

  1. What does it mean to belong?
  2. What do we gain from belonging?
  3. What is the cost of belonging, and which currencies do we pay it in?
  4. Can you endlessly belong, or is there a limit to how long you can belong for, or how many things you can belong to?
  5. Must you contribute to truly belong, or is it ok to simply sit, or consume?
  6. Can belonging be imposed upon you? And if so, can you escape from imposed belonging?
  7. Conversely: can belonging be taken away from you, or can you only ever choose to leave?
  8. Do you need permission to belong?
  9. Can you gift belonging?
  10. Do Organisations gain any tangible benefit if their employees also ‘belong’?
  11. Can belonging restrict or constrain us in any way?
  12. Are there benefits from being an outsider, and if so, do these outweigh the costs?
  13. Do you always belong with the same ‘self’, or do you curate a different self in different spaces?
  14. Can you invest too much in belonging to a particular community?

 The need to belong is a common one: we are social creatures at heart. But i suspect that much Organisational commentary about belonging, and ‘bringing your whole self to work’ may operate without a truly comprehensive willingness to explore the mechanisms, costs, benefits, and perils of belonging.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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