Overlap between Sociacracy and Democracy@Work

I would like to know Professor Wolff's opinions on Sociacracy and the overlap with the work that you are doing at Democracy @ Work. Thanks!

Official response from submitted

The key idea of sociocracy is that it is possible to combine elements of hierarchical decision-making with the democratic notion that decisions concerning a group must be arrived at via the participation and consent of all the group's members. This is done via sets of overlapping circles of consent structured to achieve specific goals. I am in agreement with the key idea and believe that sociacracy offers one way to pursue a practical achievement of the combination of efficient and democratic decision-making. Where I perhaps diverge is in my focus not only on how to structure decision-making but on what will be the content or nature of the decisions to be made. Life is an infinite set of decisions to make; it is not possible to make them all in a sociocratic (or any other) method. So we focus explicit decision-making on prioritized objects, particular things to decide together about. For me, high on the list of such prioritized objects is the organization of the production and distribution of surpluses in production. This is not a topic I associate with sociacracy or its literature. So for me the question is: how might sociacracy deal with the democratization of the organization of the surplus? I would thus love to read or hear about the possibility that sociacriacy might be the concrete realization of a democratization of the surplus such that the class exploitation of labor by non-laborers (of slaves by masters, of serfs by lords, and of employees by employers) would be overcome.

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  • Matt Schlegel
    commented 2017-02-14 16:04:05 -0500
    Thank you for the great comments and insights.
  • Matt Schlegel
    tagged this with good 2017-02-14 16:04:05 -0500
  • Daryl MacFarlane
    commented 2017-02-12 23:41:45 -0500
    As it turns out, maybe my experiences with this one person could be an exception, and not the rule. And i would certainly hope so, other wise sociocracy would become an internally-consistent ideology, claiming to advocate organizational democracy in some areas, and then rejecting that the workers should control the economy – which is the only way to implement sociocracy in the first place.
  • Daryl MacFarlane
    commented 2017-02-12 23:23:05 -0500
    Wolff’s answer was excellent, but i thought i would add a bit of my personal experiences in talking with someone who claimed to be an advocate of sociocracy. I had the initial suspicion that sociocracy was related to socialism, due to its focus on organizational democracy. but the moment i mentioned worker-cooperatives, the sociocracy advocate completely detached any notion that sociocracy could or should be used for organizing for institutions that are controlled by all of the workers, whether it is in industry, social institutions, or any other institutions that play a role in the economy. In short, they thought that sociocracy should only be applied to “privately controlled workplaces”. In my mind, this seemed like a very short-sighted perspective. In all blunt honesty it sounded like a special snow-flake liberal that was pandering to upholding capitalism and pretending like you could somehow implement a ‘reform’ of sociocracy.
  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-02-11 10:56:43 -0500
  • Matt Schlegel
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-02-10 21:10:11 -0500