Humanization and organizations

(Press control/cmd and + to enlarge the letters)                                                                           This website of the Criticial Organisation and Intervention Studies Group of the University for Humanistic Studies ( S I T E ) explores research on humanisation and organisations as developed over the last years at the UvH. The goal of the site is to inform interested visitors, discuss and form new agenda’s on this topic.

The UvH is an institution devoted to interdisciplinary inquiry into its two main themes: humanization and sense-making. It is inspired by humanism’s dedication to dialogue, openness and tolerance. The university aspires to act in defense of freedom, in pursuit of courage, and by strengthening individual self-confidence. It’s research culture is dedicated to creative discussion, rigorous questioning and mutual respect. It encompasses a community dedicated to independent thought and improving practices. The themes discussed on this site are framed by this agenda. The Critical Organisation and Intervention Studies group (KOIS) invites you to share your thoughts!

Your comments will be used in the development of the short texts into articles that will be published in a book later this year.  Click on A R T I C L E S  for more info on the research project. Click one of the THEMES  to see texts on: c a r e   t e c h n o l o g y   h u m a n i s m    e d  u c a t i o n    p o l i t i c s   e c o l o g y.   Click on L O G  I N to register so you can comment on the texts.


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The research agenda of the University for Humanistic Studies centres around two main concepts: Sense-making and humanization. Sense-making is about question of good and meaningful life, and about humanist counseling. Humanization is the concept used to discuss the contexts which enable or disable possibilities for people to live a meaningful life. It is used to start a conversation about what a humane society is, and how relationships are/should be organized humanely.

From a humanist background, this confronts us with some theoretical and practical problems. First of all, there is a strong focus on developing insight starting from practices – giving voice to the people involved. You also see this in many of the PhD’s where a professional’s personal experience is the starting point to develop insight and give definitions of humanization from what in practice constituted some meaningful improvement for the people involved. The other way around, the centrality of dialogue in the humanist background of the UvH makes most authors reluctant to define in definite terms what ‘human’ or ‘humanization’ means. The fear of the capacity of abstract rational discourse to exclude the people it is about, instead of being a research ‘with’ people, is felt strongly.

This way of dealing with the concept has made possible the development of many individual stories. This diversity is welcome at the UvH. Not having one simple definition, working with unfixed concepts that can not be imposed upon ‘consumers’, necessitates dialogue and taking the other seriously. The normative striving, the ideal inherent in humanization, can sometimes only be respected by not defining too clearly – the normative is contextual. Though a normative concept, the diversity of the uses of the term (as apparent in the articles on this site) demonstrates the emphasis on meaning as a situational practice.

However, as an institution, it is necessary to facilitate critique. Such fragmentation, a lack of explicit formulation, makes it impossible for both outsiders and insiders to criticize the use of “humanization”.

This site is borne from the wish to open up a debate, to make criticism possible, and to be able to develop new lines of thought, by making it possible for readers to compare the different individual stories. All the articles in some way problematize the relation between humanization as a normative concept and organization as a ‘neutral’ concept. Or perhaps, humanization is our way to speak of the normative side inherent in each organization?

On this website, short texts/summaries are presented on the relation between humanisation and organization. The articles are divided over six themes. These themes are different contexts or practices in which the relation is clarified between organizing and humanizing (as making humaneness or humane relations possible). For example, what does the way we organize care mean for the possibility of relating to each other in ways that are humane? How does our technology influence the way relationships are organized, and does this stimulate or inhibit human individuation?

We invite you to share your thoughts, questions, critique and feedback. Is the problem or issue recognisable in your own practice or area of research? Or not at all? What questions does it raise? What do you agree with, and what do you find unconvincing? The short texts will develop into full articles that will be published later this year, hopefully including your comments!

Please log in to place your comments. Want to write more than a comment and add your own article? Go H  E  R  E   (bottom of page).

Enjoy reading!