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Part of the EmergentDemocracy discussion.

Defining Emergent Democracy

Because we're all so close to this, it's easy to forget that we are bandying around a term, "emergent democracy," that remains undefined or fuzzily defined for many who are interested in participating but who do not quite know where to begin. AbeBurmeister pointed this out on [WWW], and I think it's fair comment. This is what I offered him, and I'm curious to see if your understandings mesh with it:

"A loose but densely interrelated confederation of ideas proceeding from the following understandings:

-- AdamGreenfield

* Adam, What you're saying here is in sync with my comments above (which is probably why Molly thought we should talk). I think your last item is one for the [WWW]Social Software Alliance. - JonLebkowsky

Been mulling over the definition (or lack thereof) of Emergent Democracy for a while now. Adam's response above to my Marginwalker query is completely valid, but at the same time unsatisfying to me. I'm looking for a definition of the concept, not a bounding of it. All that I've been able to find so far is Adam's bounding above and a similar one on the SocialText Emergent Democracy Wiki [ ]. Please note that I'm not certain whether that URL is accessible to the general public. Given the lack of a strong clear definition of the term Emergent Democracy I decided I may as well try to define it myself. Here is what I came up with:

Emergent Democracy
function: noun
:a medium or community structured so that it naturally governs itself in a democratic manner

like Adam I'm very interested to see how this meshes with other understandings of the term. I'd also really like to see a strong definition of the term "emerge" regardless of whether its related to the definition I propose above.

-- AbeBurmeister

The use of the word "emerge", or indeed "emergent" would imply bursting out through something - something suddenly appearing where nothing existed before??


Yeah I think the "emergent" part of EmergentDemocracy is what really needs defining. The OED defines emergent as: rising out of a surrounding medium. I think the key thing is the medium part. When you talk about creating an emergent democracy you are really talking about creating a medium from which democracy emerges. Hence the "naturally governs itself" part of my definition. Perhaps it could be worded better? Anyone have suggestions? --AbeBurmeister

JCAntunes, Yes i have! I'm developing emocracy site a lot of time ago, and i found yours talking about emergent democracy. Emocracy - Rule by Human Emotion is a new system vote for a Emocratic development of society! "With thematic emocracy groups will emerge" quite similar to your emergent democracy

more info at:

The way i hear "emergent" that interests me, is as meaning we do not enforce, and we do not try to plan down to the last detail. We have a vision, we make decisions as we wander toward it, and when we encounter resistance, or confusion, we do not knock it down, but listen closely, converse, to find the emergent properties of the moment that will help to solve the apparent problem, and sometimes even change our visions.

A radical minimizing of coercion. A radical inclusion of others and their views.