Social Technology Overview

Social technologies are an integral part of solutions for a functional future.

Our culture places a lot of faith in technological fixes to many of our planetary problems, but the word “technology” is almost always used to refer to physical technology (e.g., solar panels, swales and berms, etc.). Social technology are the sets of technologies we can employ to knit together these physical technologies in communities necessary for their implementation and maintenance. They include how to achieve a common vision, a workable set of plans, the ability to communicate and cooperate and organize people, etc. 

“I believe that only group or community (bioregional) survival is meaningful and possible; individual survival is meaningless, as is survival in fortresses…The profound change we must all make is internal; everybody needs to realise that there is no group coming to their rescue, that it is only what each of us does that counts; thus, those who cooperate with others, and take on a task relevant to all people, will be valued above those who seek personal survival.” (p. 557, Permaculture Designer’s Manual, Bill Mollison)

“Fitness [as in Darwinian survival of the fittest] actually can be looked at as connectivity, the survival of the most connected which means the ones that fit into diversity. Diversity is the strength of ecosystems. Elements that fit together because they perform more than one function and every function supported by more than one element gives you this strong web of life. We, as humans, are potentially designers of this system…The science of connectivity…the way we fit things together. That is survival…for all species.” – Geoff Lawton, Q&A 1.1 of PDC 2.0 (8/2022)

Permaculture’s 3 ethics are earth care, people care, and fair share (share the surplus with the first 2). In social permaculture the prime directive within “people care” is to get along while having integrity. To get along without integrity is to be a social chameleon, changing your nature to fit what everyone else wants (but doesn’t necessarily need); as such, you can cease to exist as an element in the system, pseudo-fitting everything but truly connecting to nothing. 

“In this book, I am concentrating on people and their place in nature. Not to do so is to ignore them most destructive influence on all ecologies” (p. 57, A Permaculture Designer’s Manual, Bill Mollison).

Here are some of the important social technologies for one planet thriving:

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