A Pattern Language for Social Field Shifts

Cultivating Embodied and Perceptual Capacities of Social Groups Through Aesthetics, and Social Field Archetypes


  • Ricardo Dutra Gonçalves Art Design & Architecture, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Arawana Hayashi Presencing Institute, Boston, USA




awareness-based action research, Social Presencing Theater, social fields, design probes, social arts, phenomenological research


The complex systemic issues of today, including climate change, racism, social inequality, mental health crisis, call for new ways of engaging the heart (feeling), mind (thinking), and will (doing) to actually change deep-rooted behaviors. To develop these new ways of engaging, one must learn how to cultivate first, one’s interior condition (the inner place from which we operate) and second, one's capacities to co-create with others the exterior conditions for healthy social relationships. In this paper, we claim that by living in a body we are embodied and that wisdom lives in a holistic knowing that includes embodied intelligence. We argue that to address the complex challenges of our times, we must cultivate embodied and perceptual capacities and a language for our embodied experience(s). Over three years of workshops with advanced practitioners of an embodied practice called Social Presencing Theater (SPT), we used embodied activities and design prompts (drawing, photo, video) to surface and make visible social patterns. This has led us to develop a language in the context of social systems change, in particular of social field shifts (i.e., transformations in the relational and felt qualities of our social systems). Through this paper we aim to contribute to social field research by proposing an embodied, visual, and verbal language for social groups to describe and reflect on social field shifts, made up of two parts: first, an aesthetic language to describe social field qualities; and second, three families of social field archetypes to describe social fields.


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How to Cite

Dutra Gonçalves, R., & Hayashi, A. (2021). A Pattern Language for Social Field Shifts: Cultivating Embodied and Perceptual Capacities of Social Groups Through Aesthetics, and Social Field Archetypes . Journal of Awareness-Based Systems Change, 1(1), 35–57. https://doi.org/10.47061/jabsc.v1i1.478