History and Philosophy

Sociocracy and Sociology

Drop Cap Letter QI’d never heard anyone claim sociocracy was based on sociology. How do you interpret that?

The relationship between sociocracy and sociology was there from the beginning. The first use of the word sociocracy was by Comte, the father of sociology, who created it in the 1850s to refer to a government based sociology, the new  science for the study of society.  Frank Ward, the father of American Sociology, was  the next strong advocate for Sociocracy. Both Comte and Ward focused on national governance, not business.

Betty and Kees Boeke were the first to implement a sociocracy based their practices on those of the Quaker Meeting. In their school consent was the  basis of decision-making and all members of the community participated in making policy decisions and governing the school.

Business management is a social science. Economics is also a social science, oddly enough. An essential part of the education in an MBA program is the leadership and working with people. Self-understanding is stressed, though perhaps not using those words.


Governance, taught as political science and civics, is a social science.

The “socius” or “socio-” in sociocracy refers to societies, people who have social or organizational relationships with each other.

The mechanism of feedback is based on cybernetics, the science of communications and control. How do systems communicate with and control their parts to adjust to their environment while maintaining their inner functioning. This is fundamental to the sociocratic principles and methods as they are applied to the governance and operations of an organization, particularly businesses.

Endenburg, Sociocracy, and Sociocracy

Gerard’s 1988 book has pages of insightful discussion about social issues, including civil rights and fairness. The ways in which we make women invisible, for example.

Many discussions of sociocracy are one-sided in stressing the technical and mechanistic methods of governing and not the purpose of governance which is harmony. Endenburg’s purpose for implementing and  adapting the principles sociocracy that he learned from the Boekes to a business environment was to create the same conditions he experienced in school in his business: