This project addresses a problem that is not sufficiently dealt with in most of the recent literature on social interaction and joint action. The problem concerns a general underestimation of the extent to which collective forms of social interaction are emergent, creative, often unexpected and unpredictable phenomena. This significant research lacuna is particularly salient considering that collective forms of social interaction in everyday life — whether in the case of a conversation amongst friends, brainstorming sessions with colleagues at work, dancing the tango with a new partner, playing together or taking political decisions — resemble to collective forms of improvisation in the arts. Most importantly, they involve a certain degree of improvisation, regarded as a creative ability to seize unexplored possibilities, take advantage of unforeseeable accidents and exploit emergent events as affordances to create new ways of being with others.
This project aims to make up for this lacuna. To meet this overarching goal, I will look at the synchronization dynamics observable in selected jazz improvised performances through the lens of an innovative phenomenological approach aimed at capturing the emergent, feeling-involving, improvised, yet intentional, and lived-through aspects of acting together that are missing in the current research landscape. In the interest of exploiting the opportunities afforded by joint musical performances and maximizing the chances that they may tell us something about coordinated joint action in general, I will start by considering key theoretical questions and phenomenological insights on joint agency, shared intentionality and experiential sharing that are especially well suited to be addressed observing musical performances. In a second step, these insights will be developed into the phenomenological analysis of selected joint jazz improvised performances involving face-to-face interactions. In a last step, I will “front-load” these in-depth insights into the design of a subsequent experiment to be set up at the Center for Music in the Brain at Aarhus University for testing the hypothesis generated by the theoretical framework.
Combining theoretical research with carefully designed phenomenological analysis and a specific empirical test case this project will provide a new theoretical framework for thinking about collective actions that, besides being theoretically sound, is descriptively adequate from a phenomenological standpoint and empirically timing.
The phenomenology of acting in synchrony with others: towards the bodily roots and sensorimotor foundations of the sense of we-agency in musical joint action
Area of research:
1 Oct 2018 – 30 Sep 2021
AIAS-COFUND II Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow
This fellowship has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 754513 and The Aarhus University Research Foundation.