Formal Consensus and Non-Hierarchical Social Organization

Formal Consensus and Non-Hierarchical Social Organization

August 28th, 2008 by waynemellinger
This summer I am teaching a class in group dynamics at Antioch University Santa Barbara.  This class applies social psychological theories and methods to understanding real-world group dynamics in these students lives.  Of course, I spend a considerable amount of time discussing Critical Interactionism.
Many of the readings I use for the class present “mainstream” thinking on topics such as decision-making and leadership, but I try to introduce alternative ways of thinking about workplaces and organizations.  Specifically, I am interested in advocating non-hierarchical forms of social organization, such as used in many progressive groups across the globe.
In Doing Equality (June 16, 2008), I wrote:
Here I want to consider the social processes through which non-hierarchical social organization get done?  What are the interactional dynamics of consensus decision-making?  What does turn-taking organization look like among equal, respectful partners?  How do we “do equality”?
To understand inequality, we need to examine equality, so that we have a “baseline” with which to compare.  Is equality done through a special symmetry of interactional moves, so that, for example, you often see equal amounts of listening and talking by each?

Work on micropolitics has pointed to some types of turns as more dominating: interruption, topic changes, storytelling, evaluative statements, the silence of not paying attention.
I want to do participant observation of “formal consensus” in progressive, grassroot political social movements, such as the Santa Barbar InfoShop, Food Not Bombs, and other local groups attempting to use non-hierarchical means to achieve social justice and social change.

This is what blogs look like when they are just an emergent idea.

August 28, 2008
Wayne Martin Mellinger

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