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Society & Ecology
Sunday, November 28, 2004  
Integral Approach to Change

There seems to be several dimensions to social change...

Individual vs. Structural Change
The individual approach to change is exemplified in the voluntary simplicity movement. It is powerful on the individual level, and has some impact on the social level to the extent it is adopted by the wider population. At it's best, it may be similar to mulching, preparing the ground for deeper and structural changes.

The structural change approach seek changes in how society functions, in the rules of the game. Democracy movements, women's suffragette, and neo-liberal globalization are some examples. Each have been successful in implementing laws and regulations that has a profound effect on how society functions.

Adversarial vs. Partnership
We see various manifestations of the adversarial approach in contemporary political systems. In the US, with its winner-takes-all/two-party system, it is stronger and more obvious than in some parlamentary systems: One political party takes over for a while, repeal policies instated by the other party, and then the other party takes over and do the same. It is a frustrating and not very efficient system. The adversarial approach is also typically used by those seeking social change. They want to implement their view and policies, to the exclusion of those of the "opponent".

A partnership approach to social change is one that seeks to go beyond the typical polarizations. It promotes an inclusive process, such as citizen's deliberative councils, where all voices are heard - and the process supports finding solutions beyond habitual views.

Integral Apprach
An integral approach combines several approaches to social change. Today, it seems that a partnership and structural change oriented approach is needed and may be effective. The specific strategies could range from public education (media, events), small-scale implementation (e.g. citizen counsils used on hot issues and publizised in the media), and institutionalization (citizen councils as part of the political process, first on a local level, then state and national levels).

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