Bulleted definition of co-operative
Adapted from Chapter 3 of Co-operative Inquiry, London,
Definition of co-operative inquiry
Co-operative inquiry involves two or more people researching a topic
through their own experience of it, using a series of cycles in which they
move between this experience and reflecting together on it. Each person
is co-subject in the experience phases and co-researcher in the reflection
phases. The defining features of co-operative inquiry are:
An outline of inquiry stages
All the subjects are as fully involved as possible as co-researchers
in all research decisions - about both content and method - taken
in the reflection phases.
There is intentional interplay between reflection and making sense on the
one hand, and experience and action on the other.
There is explicit attention through appropriate procedures to the validity
of the inquiry and its findings.
There is a radical epistemology for a wide-ranging inquiry method that
can be both informative about and transformative of any aspect of the human
condition. It involves a congruence of four forms of knowing: propositional,
practical, presentational, and experiential:
Propositional knowing, or knowing that, is expressed in statements.
Practical knowing, or knowing how, is expressed in the exercise of a skill.
Presentational knowing, or intuitive knowing of significant pattern, is
expressed in graphic, plastic, moving, musical and verbal art-forms.
Experiential knowing, or knowing by acquaintace, is manifest as imaging
and feeling the presence of some energy, entity, person, place, process
There are, as well as validity procedures, a range of special skills suited
to such all-purpose experiential inquiry.
The full range of human sensibilities - a transparent body-mind with an
open and unbound awareness - is available as an instrument of inquiry.
Stage 1 The first reflection phase for the inquirers to choose:
Stage 2 The first action phase when the inquirers are:
The focus or topic of the inquiry and the type of inquiry.
A launching statement of the inquiry topic.
A plan of action for the first action phase to explore some aspect of the
A method of recording experiences during the first action phase.
Stage 3 Full immersion in the action phase with great openness to
experience; the inquirers may:
Exploring in experience and action some aspect of the inquiry topic.
Applying an integrated range of inquiry skills.
Keeping records of the experiential data generated.
Stage 4 The second reflection phase; the inquirers share data from
the action phase and:
Break through into new awareness.
Lose their way.
Transcend the inquiry format.
Subsequent stages will:
Review and modify the inquiry topic in the light of making sense of data
about the explored aspect of it.
Choose a plan for the second action phase to explore the same or a different
aspect of the inquiry topic.
Review the method of recording data used in the first action phase and
amend it for use in the second.
Outcomes of co-operative inquiry
Involve, including the first, from five to eight full cycles of reflection
and action, with varying patterns of divergence and convergence, in the
action phases, over aspects of the inquiry topic.
Include a variety of intentional procedures, in the reflection phases,
and of special skills in the action phases, for enhancing the validity
of the process.
End with a major reflection phase for pulling the threads together, clarifying
outcomes, and deciding whether to write a co-operative report.
Be followed by post-group collaboration on writing up any agreed form of
Four main kinds of inquiry outcome, corresponding to the four forms
of knowing, experiential, presentational, propositional and practical:
Topics of co-operative inquiry
Transformations of personal being through engagement with the focus and
process of the inquiry
Presentations of insight about the focus of the inquiry, through dance,
drawing, drama, and all other expressive modes: these provide imaginal
symbols of the significant patterns in our realities
Propositional reports which (1) are informative about the inquiry domain,
that is, they describe and explain what has been explored, (2) provide
commentary on the other kinds of outcome, and (3) describe the inquiry
Practical skills which are (1) skills to do with transformative action
within the inquiry domain, and (2) skills to do with various kinds of participative
knowing and collaboration used in the inquiry process
The first half of the list relates to informative inquiries, which have
propositional outcomes which describe and explain what is going on, or
presentational outcomes which portray it.
The second half of the list covers items for transformative inquiries,
which have practical or skills outcomes, including their effects.
Participation in nature: from molecules, minerals and galactic clusters
to microbes, protoplasm and all life forms in the biosphere
Participation in art: from sculpture and painting to theatre and song
Participation in intrapsychic life: from sensations and moods to elevations
Participation in interpersonal relations: verbal and nonverbal, from one-to-one
encounters and face-to-face groups, to structured large group meetings
Participation in forms of culture: from environmental and economic arrangements
to education and politics
Participation in other realities and altered states of consciousness: from
telekinesis and extrasensory perception to cosmic consciousness and unitive
A brief history of ICCI inquiries
Transformation of the environment: from local to planetary ecology; from
architecture to permaculture
Transformation of social structure: social practices and rituals; organizational
development; economic and political transformation; liberation of the disempowered
and disadvantaged and of their oppressors; a self-generating culture
Transformation of education: from birth to death; including self-directed
learning, peer and holistic learning
Transformation of professionalism: professional skills; peer review audit;
creating a culture of competence; deprofessionalization, delegation and
Transformation of personhood: personal growth skills, interpersonal and
Transformation of life-style: ranging from intimacy and domicile to occupation