I experience an inner dissonance when I compare the sociocracy’s intentions with its language. If I understand Sharon below, sociocracy aims at clarifying what people agree to do (“roles and functions”) rather than what they are (identity/status). In contrast, in English at least, the language of sociocracy labels people rather than activities, i.e. it says “Nancy is the Facilitator” (or “Bookkeeper”), rather than “Nancy facilitates ” (or “keeps books”), or “Nancy’s role is facilitation” (or “bookkeeping”). Moreover, I notice the habit of capitalizing the people-labels, which I further interpret via my English-language lens as giving weight & importance to the people label. In English, I think capitalization is used mainly for identity. Given that English is not the native language of sociocracy, I wonder if perhaps the people-labeling and capitalization are accidental or intentional. In talking about people and actions, here are three choices. (Are there more?)
- Say what someone is: “Nancy is the Facilitator” .
- Say what someone does: “Nancy facilitates” (or “keeps meetings on track”).
- Say what a role/function is: “Facilitation consists of task focus and participation monitoring”.
I think of these choices as (respectively)
- language of being for people,
- language of doing for people,
- language of being for functions
I would expect that sociocracy would want the second and third choice rather than the first one.Why do I care about this language issue? Because at odds with the intention of sociocracy (and NVC) are strong ego (identity/status) habits. I want to support putting the intentions into effective practice by undermining the old habits and nurturing new ones, via some awareness and verbal skills. Since language influences thinking so profoundly, I like to consciously align language with intention as well as possible. The language shift I’m suggesting aligns better for me than what I’ve been hearing (including in Sharon’s note below).