Taking a systems view of democratic design

Catherine Howe

Catherine Howe applies systems thinking to democracy in seven short sharp minutes. Don’t watch this for the production values – there aren’t any – but for a lot of thought neatly packed into a rather small space.

Democracy is

us figuring out as humans how to make the least worst decisions collectively

That definition combines extreme modesty with extraordinary ambitions, and very deliberately says nothing about democracy as representation. This is the broader, systemic view, built round three themes – networks of different scales (and so the network of those networks, and how people participate in them); design, of processes and structures; and the central importance of power and how it is distributed.

There’s no attempt to offer a solution. But better questions are always a good step towards better answers.

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