The Braided Way
: Deep Democracy and Community

  • Gillian Emslie

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This study uses Processwork as a lens to evaluate the facilitation of social change and related design projects at all levels of scale. Social change processes are deconstructed and explored in terms of awareness of signals, roles, dimensions of rank and power, belief systems, and phenomenological experience within the analytical structure of deep democracy and eldership. Data is collected for the case studies from workshops, interviews with practitioners and participants, relevant texts and field experiences.
    The Bolivian case studies involved 24 rural indigenous farmers (men of varying ages) and 16 women (aged 16 - 54), all from situations of extreme urban poverty and shows the application of Processwork in empowering participants to facilitate social change.
    The Zaragoza case study was a part-time multi-module two-year course involving 38 male and female lawyers. They gained the confidence to design, and in some cases implement, a parallel mediation training, based on a whole systems design.
    The Thai case study consisted of 3 week-long workshops with Buddhist monks and nuns, university professors, community leader, consultants and trainers. The results suggest the emphasis on eldership, group process structure, rank, power, and double signals was extremely useful, even for those already experienced in awareness-based practices.
    The Ecovillage case study focuses on one female facilitator working in an extremely diverse cultural setting and demonstrates the importance of working with inner diversity and the value of both inner and outer awareness Processwork exercises.
    In choosing this broad spectrum of applications, the similarities and differences of Processwork in diverse cultural and social contexts is illustrated. The case studies and my experience suggest that Processwork can contribute to a shift in perspective required to build a more sustainable civilization with its capacity to broaden perspective and increase awareness at the worldview level. Processwork facilitates a process of meta-design, that encourages participants to see the larger, complex context of their projects as well as the details and momentary interactions and can be very helpful to all those working with complex systems, including facilitators and designers.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorSeaton Baxter (Supervisor) & Max Schupbach (Supervisor)


    • Processwork
    • Deep democracy
    • Conflict facilitation
    • Inner work
    • Awareness
    • Social change
    • Multi-cultural
    • Natural design interventions
    • Sustainable communities
    • Systemic approach

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