RE: Sociocratic decisions?
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2000 22:28:00 -0700 (MST)
There are several communities which all have different interpretations of
socicracy and how it works. Sociocracy comes from the Netherlands and it's
use in communities seems to vary.

In most groups that claim it, It is used as sort of a representational
consensus. Rather than have everyone involved in all decision making, the
members choose reprentatives who form like a board of directors (usally with
a different name like meta-thinkers, or Over Circle, or...This group then
reaches consensus for the whole group.

Some groups use small group autonomy instead, so instead of one group making
decisions, there are several smaller groups arranged by function, committees
which make decisions relative to a specific area.

The notion common to both uses is that they define consensus (wisely in my
opinion) as consent, not agreement, and instead of looking for agreement,
look for principalled objections. How you define principalled objection is
sort of the core here.

It can be used effectively in larger groups, keeping the number of decision
makers to a small enough number that you can work things out using
conversations around a table, rather than trying to wade through comments
and opinions (and dysfunctions) from dozens or hundreds of people.

Some groups choose to elect their member representatives directly before
each meeting, eg. before the meeting you have to get 24 votes from other
members in order to go to the meeting. This ensures that each reprentative
has the trust of the membership and that the membership is involved directly
in each decision making meeting. Of course, it also means voting once a
month for who is going to represent the group, which I suppose could be

In some applications this group reaches a consensus, and the remaining
larger group ratifies it with, of all things, a majority vote.

The difficult part about doing it well is avoiding the temptation to
disenfranchise those whose voices "get in the way". It can also be easy to
hand off responsibility for decision making which frees up members to
criticize idiot decisions, and lay the blame on somebody else.

I have seen this used mostly in groups larger than 100, although I can't
think of any reason it would not work in a smaller group. Eco-Village of
Loudin County is the only Cohousing-like group I have heard of that uses a
flavor of this.

Many groups use this method but don't call it sociocracy. For example,
autonomous small group consensus decisions, with a oversite board is a
fairly common decision structure.

Once you get to around 50 decision makers or so, doing large group decision
making is usually redefined, and you use the large group to ratify smaller
groups, or to brainstorm ideas and proposals. This way you get the benefit
of 50 brians without the drag of 50 egos.

Rob Sandelin
Northwest Intentional Communities Association
Building a better society, one neighborhood at a time

> -----Original Message-----
> From: cohousing-l [at]
> [mailto:cohousing-l [at]]On Behalf Of Todd & Betsy
> Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2000 4:47 AM
> To: Multiple recipients of list
> Subject: Sociocratic decisions?
> I have just recently heard the term sociocratic decision making. It is
> apparently used within more enlightened corporate structures to move
> decisions  more quickly than the consensus model.  Does anyone have any
> shorthand explanation of how it works, its value in cohousing and-or
> resources for learning more?
> Todd Derkacz
> Hilltop Cohousing Neighborhood
> San Marcos, Texas

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.