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Towards a Theory of Accounting for Lunch (an attempt at academic humour)

Having lunch could be interpreted as social theatre, rich with ideas and transcendent theories. A couple of days ago we had the privilege of lunching in the Great Hall at the University of Sydney.

Although the Great Hall is a massive room, with plenty of space for people to mingle, I could not help but notice how the delegates congregated in their own “cliques” – like when we were back in high school and only did lunch with our own pose.

The Executive Lunch that was served on the second day was meant to change this strange phenomenon. The idea of the lunch was to allow delegates the freedom of not being chained to any particular table. After collecting our “lunch box” from the main foyer of the conference hall we were set free like doves to explore our surroundings. A brilliant idea which I thought would finally help to break up these cliques - to create a new social dynamic! But here is what I observed from a range of different perspectives (we are at an interdisciplinary research conference after all).

Positivistic perspective –
H0: That people congregate to their familiar support groups and structures (flocking effect) even in the face of counteracting forces to do otherwise.

H1: That people will alter their normal tendency to flock, if a conducive social environment is present.

Conclusion: H1 is disproved. Accept Null Hypothesis. (T-tests and correlation coefficients available on request).

Interpretivist perspective –
That based on my particular social standing given the pervading cultural and socio political norms that govern the process of eating lunch, “I” observed that people seemed to group together in their habitual and reinforced social circles.

Critical perspective –
That power structures and social hierarchies constrict social interaction by dehumanising actors and emphasising their roles within the power structure of the academic community.

These theories are still at an early stage of development and have actually all been disproved. Apparently all you have to do break into a clique is smile and say hello!!! But all joking aside, lunch was the best time to network and meet very interesting people. Thank you to everyone I have had the pleasure of having lunch with!