What stands between us and authoritarianism seems increasingly fragile. Democratic practices are under attack by foreign intrusion into elections; voter suppression restricts citizen participation. Nations are turning to autocratic leaders in the face of rapid social change. Democratic values and open society can only be preserved if citizens can discover and claim their voices. We access society through our organisations, yet the collective voices and irrationalities of these organisations do not currently offer clear pathways for individuals to locate themselves. How can we move through the mounting chaos of our social systems, through our multiple roles in groups and institutions, to find a voice that matters? What kind of perspective will allow institutional leaders to facilitate the discovery of active citizenship and support engagement?
This book draws on psychodynamic systems thinking to offer a new understanding of the journey from being an individual to joining society as a citizen. With detailed stories, the steps – and the conscious and unconscious linkages – from being a family member, to entering outside groups, to taking up and making sense of institutional roles, illuminate the process of claiming the citizen role. With the help of leaders who recognise and utilise the dynamics of social systems, there may be hope for us as citizens to use our institutional experiences to discover a place to stand.