In a typical democracy we have politicians who form opinions based on their own views with input from their advisors, special interest groups and who knows, even some average people. These politicians go across the land proclaiming their position and may even debate some other politicians who have formed their views in a similar manner. Those who could be bothered then go to vote for the politician whose views align most closely with theirs and voila we have an elected official who goes on to make our decisions for us. In this model it is possible for 49% of the population to not get their wish without having a forum to have their voices heard. These people may not co-operate and may even go as far as to actively sabotage attempts to implement the group decision.

Deep Democracy works with the people directly. It starts with a vote to determine everyone's position. This is followed by an in depth discussion which is facilitated by trained professionals using techniques like reflective listening, amplification, role playing, weather reports and conflict resolution. Special attention is paid to the minority voice as it is believed that there may be wisdom there that is not visible to the majority of the group. (more on that in a later FAQ question) Once time is up or discussion is complete there is a final vote. The minority who have lost the vote is given an opportunity to express what would make it OK for them to go with the group decision. This information could be useful to the majority to reduce resistance to the implentation of the decision.

We all have "blindspots" or things that we do not know that we do not know.
Deep democracy tries to address this by listening to the minority or dissenting voice or simply put, the "no". It believes that there is potentially wisdom there that is not visible to the whole group, so special attenion is paid to this "voice".
This also allows for the minority to be heard and it is believed that this will reduce their ultimate resistance to implementing the group's final decision.
Lets take an example. Say, for instance, that we were planning to build a new airport at location x. The majority agrees that this is a good decision.
However, there is one person in the group that knows that this is the nesting ground for some rare birds. If we listen to his "no", we might actually change our decision and decide to look for a new location instead.

The Lewis Method of Deep Democracy is based on Arnold Mindell's Process Oriented Psychology. An American physicist and Jungian analyst, Mindell pioneered a highly innovative approach for understanding and working with individual and group dynamics, enabling powerful transformations to take place in a relatively short time. The Lewis Method of Deep Democracy was developed by Greg and Myrna Lewis in South Africa to suit specific needs in post-apartheid South Africa.

  • I am not aware of Deep Democracy ever being implemented online. Typically facilitators rely on things like double signals (where what you say and your body language don't match up) to help the process along or to know when to amplify etc. This is not visible through a computer screen.

  • Next