Episode 59: Building Better Social Worlds with Theory

Chris Wells and Emma Nicholson with guests Sergej van Middendorp and Abbie VanMeter

Release date: June 10, 2024

In episode 59, Chris and Emma were joined by Dr. Sergej van Middendorp and Abbie VanMeter of the CMM Institute for Personal and Social Evolution. We discussed the CMM (Coordinated Management of Meaning) theory and its intersection with the theory of positive disintegration.

Sergej helps generate healthy systems with action research-based practice in improvisation, design, and communication. In the Netherlands, he facilitates a collaborative support network of caregivers and IT providers in their development of an integral digital health system. He is on the CMM Institute's Board of Stewards.

Abbie is the host of the Stories Lived. Stories Told. podcast. In partnership with the CMM Institute for Personal and Social Evolution, she is involved in a number of projects that work to make the tools, language, and knowledge offered by the communication theory Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) more accessible.

CMM theory posits that persons in conversation (when we communicate with each other) co-create their social realities, and are simultaneously shaped by the worlds they construct. Its focus is on storytelling and meaning-making, and the goal of the CMM Institute is to create better social worlds, by helping people communicate in healthier (and more conscious) ways.

Meaning is socially constructed—we all have a part in its creation. We discussed how one intersection between positive disintegration and CMM theory is how positive communication and storytelling can include conscious choice, awareness, and relational dynamics in shaping personal growth and social interactions. By being mindful of the stories we tell and the meaning we create through communication, we can contribute to building better social worlds and fostering genuine connections with others.

Both CMM theory and the theory of positive disintegration provide language to name and understand our experiences. These frameworks are empowering because they serve as toolkits that can help us in our meaning-making efforts.

Abbie and Sergej will be presenting virtually at the 2024 Dabrowski Congress in the session “Improvising Personal and Social Evolution with the Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD) and the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM).”

Resources from this Episode

CMM Institute website

Stories Lived. Stories Told. Podcast

“Plan for Emergence” episode with Abbie and Sergej

Chris and Emma were on Episode 44 and Episode 45

 on Substack


CosmoTeenz Fellows on Instagram

Watch Sergej and Abbie’s preview video for DC2024.

Click here to register for the 2024 Dabrowski Congress

We want to thank the CMM Institute for becoming a DC2024 sponsor!

Positive Disintegration Podcast, Ep. 22 on Nonviolent Communication