Summary
Consensus decision-making or consensus process (often abbreviated to consensus) are group decision-making processes in which participants develop and decide on proposals with the aim, or requirement, of acceptance by all. The focus on establishing agreement of at least the majority or the supermajority and avoiding unproductive opinion differentiates consensus from unanimity, which requires all participants to support a decision. The word consensus is Latin meaning "agreement, accord", derived from consentire meaning "feel together". Broadly, consensus relates to a generally accepted opinion, but in the context of this article refers to the process and the outcome of consensus decision-making (e.g. "to decide by consensus" and "a consensus was reached"). Consensus decision-making, as a self-described practice, originates from several nonviolent, direct action groups that were active in the Civil rights, Peace and Women's movements, themselves part of the larger U.S. counterculture of the 1960s. The practice gained popularity in the 1970s through the anti-nuclear movement, and peaked in popularity in the early 1980s. Consensus spread abroad through the anti-globalization and climate movements, and has become normalized in anti-authoritarian spheres in conjunction with affinity groups and ideas of participatory democracy and prefigurative politics. Despite similar practices being observed in different cultures throughout history, there are almost no literary uses of consensus decision-making or consensus process prior to 1960. The Movement for a New Society (MNS) has been credited for popularizing consensus decision-making. Unhappy with the inactivity of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) against the Vietnam War, Lawrence Scott started A Quaker Action Group (AQAG) in 1966 to try and encourage activism within the Quakers. By 1971 AQAG members felt they needed not only to end the war, but transform civil society as a whole, and renamed AQAG to MNS.
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