W H Y was invited to participate in "Mündig und Hörig", a October 2006 discussion during the 25th birthday of WUK in Vienna around the themes of autonomy and self-organisation. This questionairre collects the opinions, experiences and strategies of various individuals and groups in Holland (and abroad) where the issue of autonomy plays an integral role. For the W H Y Rotterdam site, we are still interested in additional comments so feel free to download the questionairre and email us your ideas. This is not a scientific or academic work. The questions are intended only as guidelines! Please feel free to answer in Dutch.
We think that "autonomy" stays quite a hollow term, with no single objective definition, if it its not filled with different meanings from different individuals. It shares much with freedom and independence, freedom from external dependencies which are different amongst individuals. Through the following questions, we would like to map out what it could mean for you personally.
1. What external factors limit your autonomy the most?
Can you list some of the dependencies you encounter which you feel influences your daily life and work? Where and when do you feel these limitations the most? Can you describe occasions where you were able to go around these dependencies to achieve a desired goal that you were aiming for?
2. Where is your autonomous zone?
In which areas/situations of your daily life do you have most a feeling there is the possibility for you to act autonomously? Is this feeling of autonomy connected to a physical (free)space? What factors or qualities characterize and make your autonomous zone possible?
Wikipedia "Autonomy": It is an up to date problem how to organize human collectives with actual individual autonomy, especially if we consider the huge problem of free choice, free expression and free acting in the real realm of production, distribution and consume, that is, in economy.
3. The costs and benefits of working with a collective?
(How) Does working in a group offer a greater potential to struggle (develop strategies) with these dependencies? Where are the advantages and disadvantages of struggling against dependencies as a group? Where do you see that it is better to work as an individual than as a group?
4. The Taking of Responsibility in the Collective vs. Freedom of the Individual
Where do you experience tension fields, where potentials emerging between a (desired) basis democratic (self-) organisation of a group and the engaged individual taking on responsibility in the group to reach goals? In your opinion, how can Continuity, Engagement (betrokkenheid) and Responsibility be afforded or made possible in self-organized structures? Do hierarchies have a place in self-organisation?
5. Other / Additional Comments
When the above questions do not offer the framework or freedom for you to describe your ideas, please feel free to tell us however you like! Also please add any links or references to books/websites etc. which you find are important to the topic.
There will be also a print documentation of the discussion in Vienna. We would also like to ask how you would prefer to be identified.
Werkstätten- und Kulturhaus Vienna
October 2006 W H Y Rotterdam