SoFA dreams of a world where people are organized to meet needs by sharing power. In order to realize that vision, our mission is to make resources for learning and implementing sociocracy accessible to everyone.
Sociocracy for All is for everything that supports our capacity and freedom to engage as equals in meeting our individual and collective needs. We aim to bring sociocracy to the world because sociocracy establishes power with and creates the conditions where power within can flourish. This is in contrast to governance based on power over, such as tyranny of the majority by win-lose democracy or tyranny of the minority by poorly defined consensus processes. Sociocracy is an approach to governance where everyone’s voice matters.
Sociocracy for All objects to all systems of oppression resulting from power over. This includes militarism, imperialism, colonialism, extractive capitalism, classism, racism, sexism and every kind of system of oppression that is based on the idea that one kind of people is inherently worth more than another kind.
Sociocracy for All is for a just world in which power with results in everyone having what they need to thrive. We seek to work with others who share our vision of a world based on cooperation among equals in support of contributing to everyone’s needs and the well-being of the planet.
Sociocracy for All recognizes that the capacity to practice power with comes from individual capacity for power within. Even within a sociocratic organization, we are not the same. We all have our history and contexts that contributed to privileging or diminishing our voices. To bring equity to our voices, Sociocracy For All commits to the ongoing learning and development of all our members towards their full potential.
The Gifts and Challenges of Sociocracy in Relationship to Social Justice
The gifts: How is sociocracy non-oppressive?
Sociocracy provides a framework for shared power in organizational settings. It allows us to relate as equals by giving everyone a voice. It can help reconfigure power by distributing it more horizontally, and also healing our relationship to power by giving us a different experience with it.
The Challenges: How is sociocracy not emancipatory enough?
There’s an important difference between sociocracy’s potential for being non-oppressive and it actually functioning as actively anti-oppressive or emancipatory. Sociocracy faces these challenges in reaching its full liberatory potential:
- It’s typically not framed as anti-oppressive.
- An organization may want to manage themselves sociocratically for efficiency purposes, but have no strong intentions of using sociocracy as a tool for transformation. Shared power may be part of their governance structure, but not really a part of their vision, mission, aims, and everyday operations. In order for sociocracy to serve as a liberation tool, its use must be intentional.
- Even if it is framed as such, it’s a challenge.
- We have a long, hurtful relationship with power. We have a lot of familiarity with the harmful patterns we want to transform. It’s easy to fall back into them because they’re so well known to us. If we want to break those patterns and learn more harmonious ones, we need to practiceshared power and the skills necessary for it. In order to change we need intentioned rehearsal and repetition, as well as compassion for ourselves and each other in that learning path.
- Even with well-intentioned practice and commitment to change, sociocracy is one piece of a much bigger puzzle.
- Sociocracy is a governance system designed for particular organizations that want to practice shared power among members. The organizational aspect of our lives is just one dimension of our complex reality. The most harmful systems of oppression tend to cut across individual, interpersonal, and systemic levels at individual, interpersonal, and systemic levels. Focusing only on the organizational dimension leaves out the societal context that our organizations are set in. Thus, sociocracy should be complemented with additional strategies that are aimed at changing society as a whole.
Conclusion: In the long run, sociocracy as a practice can contribute to healing our relationship with power. In the short run, we all have work to do to ensure that every voice matters.
In light of this social justice statement, what does SoFA commit to do?
We commit to “walking our talk” by:
- Externally: Distributing sociocracy and shared power where it’s most needed:
- Making sociocracy affordable and accessible with diverse strategies such as sliding scales, replicable materials, creative commons license, translations, etc.
- Intentionally prioritize our allies: working with and for people and organizations that are focused on the redistribution of power, particularly those currently most negatively impacted by systems of oppression
- Internally: Cultivating our ability to share power among members
- Including a liberation perspective in Membership Circle’s program of member development
- Addressing potential barriers that would discourage anyone from fully participating as members
- Centering the quality of connection among our members as our source of creativity and power with/power within
- Supporting members to address and transcend internalized oppression
- Asking for help: looking beyond our organization for support and challenge in strengthening our social justice commitment
We commit to “talking our walk” by:
- Externally: Framing sociocracy practice and training as a tool for liberation
- Inviting and creating more content on sociocracy and its relationship to power/social change
- Giving clear, visible and bold voice to our social justice philosophy and approach
- Internally: Making power an issue to address and explore
- Addressing power dynamics in circles, such as noticing who’s in the room or whose voices were not heard, as specific agenda items
- Hosting member gatherings to continue reflecting on our relations to power (study groups, workshops, conferences, caucus spaces, etc.)
- Evaluating and measuring SoFA’s impact towards accomplishing our vision of shared power, being compassionately self-critical