A detailed and nuanced argument presented by Collaborative Futures illuminates the complex nature of collaboration as a process. And while I do, at heart, share these, and other, authors’ utopian idea of collaboration as an answer, or at least a step toward, a salvation of many social issues, I remain unsure about what do we really mean by collaboration and whether its positive effects are sustainable and always beneficial. Collaboration can take many forms and shapes, but it always requires a group of people. Any group of people, in turn, is susceptible to group processes such as group-think, othering, and diffusion of responsibility, to name a few. These can lead to dismissal of alternative opinions, uncritical evaluation of one’s own work, and privileging one’s point of view, particularly when collaborative groups form on the basis of “shared political perspective rather than interdependence through need,” which CAE conversely argues to be preferred. Two collaborative groups, regardless of how democratizing their respective infrastructures are, might be at conflict.
In fact, I wonder whether we would be as excited about collaborations if they did not have “our” best interests at heart. Would a collaboration among a group of corporate executives geared toward limiting a supply of a particular resource to rise up the prices be considered a collaboration? Would a group of young professionals working under the collaboration criteria provided by Collaborative Futures but on a for-profit project be considered a collaboration? Or would we call it business? Is collaboration a business? Can or should it be?
To use an archaic definition of business as meaningful activity, any collaboration, I hope, is a business . But in today’s discourse it appears that word collaboration is being used as a juxtaposition to words like business, neoliberalism, and capitalism, to name a few. But is it really? Or is it all just rhetoric?