Cohesion Forces and Tools

This article is part of the series on Autonomy and Cohesion. It is the second part of the basic overview of the balance. If you haven’t read the previous part, I’d recommend doing so before reading further.

Cohesion forces

Liquids and solids are in those states because there are cohesion forces bonding the molecules together. The main cohesion forces currently studied in physics are the van der Waals forces, dipole-dipole interactions, hydrogen bonding, and ionic bonding. In socio-technical systems, there are cohesion forces too. Those forces are way more complex and less studied. Cohesion in socio-technical systems is not only due to natural forces. Tools, technologies, and artifacts can significantly contribute too. They bring direct and also systemic effects. We’ll go to the cohesion tools and technologies after we briefly review some cohesion forces and factors. Cohesion forces and factors are difficult or impossible to influence, which is what makes them different from cohesion tools and technologies.

There are personal cohesion factors like the need for safety, the need to belong to a social group, to reduce uncertainty, and the need to increase self-esteem. Such needs make us form clubs, tribes, communities, organizations, and networks.

Shared values and beliefs are strong cohesion forces, and those can include the shared value of autonomy.

There are also social identity cohesion forces. We tend to identify, sometimes strongly, with sports clubs, ethnic groups, communities, professions, organizations, or religions. In some situations, compassion, loyalty, and empathy play a bigger role. In others, completely different forces. For example, typical personal cohesion forces in social networks are the need for self-expression, validation, and recognition, as well as the fear of missing out.

In every socio-technical system, there are internal and external cohesion factors and forces. The personal cohesion forces work both within organizations and networks, although they have different subsets and strengths. Typical internal organizational cohesion forces are organizational identity, internal operational dependencies, shared resources, synergy, and efficiency. In networks, cohesion forces and factors are proximity, transitivity, and preferential attachment, and in social networks, there are many additional ones, such as shared interest and shared aversion.

Which brings us to the external cohesion factors.
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