Integral Theory on the Dynamics of Social Groups

[Note: this article was pubished at Integral Life as a section of a longer article on civil society responses to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. It’s a synopsis of Ken Wilbur’s theory of social groups that is quite interesting and useful. It mirrors the social theory Niklaus Luhmann, a German sociologist whose work forms the core of my doctoral thesis.]

To explore this, I turn to Integral Theory

Developed by philosopher and author Ken Wilber, Integral Theory is a supertheory or metatheory that attempts to explain how the most time-tested methodologies, and the experiences those methodologies bring forth, fit together in a coherent fashion. Integral Theory’s pragmatic correlate is a series of social practices called Integral Methodological Pluralism (IMP). The personal application of AQAL is called Integral Life Practice (ILP). “AQAL” (which stands for “all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types”) is often used interchangeably with Integral Theory, the Integral approach, the Integral map, the Integral model, and the Integral Operating System (IOS).

“>Integral Theory, which is a comprehensive transdisciplinary theory developed by contemporary philosopher Ken Wilber and applied by others across several professional fields.

Integral theory posits some intriguing ideas about social group dynamics. These social groups are referred to as “social holons”, in that they are both ‘whole’ in and of themselves while also ‘part’ of other larger wholes. (Koestler, 1982; Wilber, 2004).

Social holons maintain cohesiveness by their ‘internality codes’ or ‘wholeness patterns.’ Anyone who has worked within a professional field, for example, for long enough will recognize that there is a certain logic or cohesiveness that is evident within that field; outsiders may stumble upon unseen social factors whereas someone internal to that group will not. This is the same for social groups that define themselves on a certain shared set of values—such as social movements, religious congregations, and the private sector—each have codes, norms and informal protocols for ‘the way things are done’. Wilber describes this saying:

“The various interactions of group members are internal to a nexus-agency