Collective sensemaking in the local response to a grand challenge: Recovery, alleviation and change-oriented responses to a refugee crisis

Mark Giessen*, Christina Langenbusch, Gabriele Jacobs, Joep Cornelissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Grand societal challenges such as forced displacement are extreme and complex issues that are challenging to individuals and might seem insurmountable. How do local actors make sense of, position themselves in and act on such challenges? We conducted a case study of the collective sensemaking narratives of 71 actors involved in the refugee crisis on Lesbos, Greece. We elaborate how actors make sense of their role in the local response to this grand challenge and explain why some ultimately chose to cooperate to address the plight of refugees while others distributed tasks or avoided responding altogether. We identify three collective sensemaking narratives that actors use to validate such action strategies aimed at alleviation, personal recovery or structural change; and as characterized by different forms of interaction and emergent collective sensemaking. We contribute with our article to the study of responses to grand challenges by showing how a collective sensemaking framework can be used to understand local responses. We also contribute to extant theorizing on collective sensemaking by showing how actors make sense of grand challenges through interactions with other actors and how their narratives inform individual and collective action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-930
Number of pages28
JournalHuman Relations
Volume75
Issue number5
Early online date29 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.

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