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What is the Partnerism Movement

The Partnerism Movement is a global social movement to mainstream the idea of partnership system design, starting with a caring economics of Partnerism, an economic system that, unlike Capitalism and Socialism, values and rewards caring for one another, nature, and our collective future.

Partnerism is an economic system that, unlike Capitalism and Socialism, values and rewards caring for one another.

Inspired by Riane Eisler’s work, the movement to mainstream Partnerism as an alternative to Domination economics started in 2019 in response to Eisler’s keynote at the Bretton Woods 75 conference. The Partnerism Movement builds on the Center for Partnership System’s Caring Economy Campaign of 2008 – 2017.

Hierarchies of Actualization

Eisler coined the term “Hierarchies of Actualization” to describe how hierarchies are constructed in Partnership Systems.  In Hierarchies of Actualization, parents, managers, leaders, and others in positions of authority seek to uplift and empower others.

In hierarchies of domination, rigid rankings are used to control others and keep people deemed inferior “in their place”.

Domination/Partnership Social Scale

No human society is purely a domination system or a Partnership System; all are somewhere on the spectrum between these two possibilities.  Our task today is to move our institutions, policies, values, and practices further in the direction of Partnership.

The Four Cornerstones

Eisler’s research reveals four interactive levers for shifting away from Domination Systems toward Partnership Systems: Gender relations, Childhood relations, Economic relations, and Language/Narratives.

Eisler’s scholarship directs us to focus our efforts in these four areas as foundational to build Partnership Systems.


What is the Partnerism Movement

Cultural Transformation Theory

Conventional approaches assumed that social change is linear or one-directional (as in the idea of a gradual progression from “barbarism” to “civilization”).  In the last hundred years, new theories contradict this view. Based on evidence from disciplines ranging from archaeology and anthropology to linguistics and DNA studies, a new more accurate picture of human cultures through time and place is emerging.

Riane Eisler’s theory on cultural evolution is sometimes referred to as Cultural Transformation Theory. Drawing from new approaches such as self-organizing systems, non-linear dynamics, and chaos theories, it is based on new understandings of how complex living systems maintain themselves and how they can undergo transformative change during periods of significant disequilibrium.

Technological and social evolution tend to become more complex, but the direction of cultural evolution depends on whether we have a Partnership or a Domination oriented social structure.

In other words, new technologies are destabilizing to old patterns, but do not by themselves determine the direction of cultural change.  If you change the cultural values, assumptions, and structures that govern the development and use of technology, you change the impact of those technologies.

Eisler’s research shows that whole-systems change is fundamentally driven by shifts in the configuration of our human-to-human and human-to-Earth relationships, including our families, our language and categories for thinking, as well as our core values, beliefs, and the stories we learn about “human nature.” 

This research differs from earlier approaches in significant ways. It looks at the whole of our history, including prehistory, and at the whole of our social systems rather than marginalizing or ignoring the majority of humanity, women, and children. It takes into account findings from neuroscience showing that what children experience or observe shapes the development of our human brains, and hence how we think, feel, and act – including how we vote. It is multidisciplinary and includes new disciplines like gender studies, making it possible to see connections that have been invisible.

Partnership Language

How we use language is key in the shift to Partnership Systems. Domination-based words and phrases have been built into our everyday use of the English language, and influence the way we perceive the world. The examples below are a sampling of the many phrases that can evolve from a context of domination to Partnership in our everyday use of language.

  • Kill two birds with one stone → Hatch two birds with one egg
  • I really killed it/crushed it/nailed it → I really brought it to life
  • I will whip that into shape → I will concentrate on this project
  • Bullet points → Itemized list
  • Mankind → Humankind

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