2001 Conference (May 27-29)

Vancouver, B.C. Canada

Allenna Leonard

Contexts of Coercion




Coercion and perceptions of coercion are a persistent feature of our social environment. In some contexts this is accepted in the form of competition, exchange, conflict and creative tension. In others it seems to intrude even when stated intentions and values are contrary to it. Part of the problem seems to be rooted in the simultaneous conflicting models people often carry with them, sometimes as baggage, sometimes as a conscious mode of operation, sometimes unconsciously. They include the dominator and partnership models, the war or exchange models, the espoused theory vs. theory in use, hierarchy vs. heterarchy, massive inequality of status, resources, power, etc. vs. equal opportunity/status in law, and the one definitive view vs. multiple perspectives.

Practicing cybernetics in social contexts often runs up against these contradictions. They may, if not dealt with, lead to silenced voices or feelings of exclusion or disempowerment. I'd like to have a conversation about how to make sharing perspectives and taking action in ways that are and appear to be non-coercive.


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