Sociocracy is an approach for making decisions in a way that includes every voice with the aim of reaching a shared goal. In contrast to the majority vote, which usually implies that the minority passively accepts the majority decision, the sociocraticapproach aims to reach a decision that includes the ideas and opinions of everyone involved. Therefore, sociocracy can also be referred to as communicative democracy because it places emphasis on the acts of speaking up and listening to each other.
In practice, this means that the members of a group negotiate with each other until they come to a decision that is agreed upon by everyone. Ideally, they sit together in a circle (i.e. the sociocracy circle), where they listen to each other’s ideas, opinions, objections, and doubts. With all of this in mind, the decision is then put into writing and adapted until all parties agree with it or is willing to accept it at least until a better solution is found. This decision is called “consent”.
Viewed through a democratic education lens, the sociocratic approach addresses a gap when it comes decision-making processes at school. Oftentimes students and educators come to decisions via the majority vote. However, what happens if the majority only narrowly wins a vote, essentially showing that the group is split? This issue becomes even more apparent the more options individuals can vote for. Consider the following example: 12 people vote for option A, while 7 and 8 people vote for options B and C, respectively. In this case, the majority (7 + 8 people) are against option A. However, according to the majority rule, option A would still win. This can cause dissatisfaction among students and educators alike, especially if they feel that their voices are rarely included in the final decision.
Sociocracy, in contrast, is a tool that avoids this feeling of dissatisfaction by listening to the voices of all groups and inividuals. By looking beyond the majority rule, it encourages people to act collaboratively by listening to others and engaging with their suggestions and ideas. This approach helps students to recognise that there are ways how to respond to the diverse needs of a group without excluding those that appear as the minority. Instead of experiencing exclusions, students learn that their opinions and ideas have a tangible impact in decision-making.