The ECM levels point to different actors in the conflict. Understanding the actors and their position in the conflict is primordial for the elicitive worker’s analysis and intervention. These levels have been drawn following John Paul Lederach’s (1997) vertical categories of Top, Middle Range and Grassroots Leaders. For the purposes of ECM, we have taken Lederach’s insights and incorporated them into the Sri Yantra system, as a way of emphasizing the transition from a structuralist-inspired understanding, towards a systemic one. Let us go through this step by step.

In its original version, Lederach’s pyramid indicates that all actors interact across the various social strata, from the grassroots to the middle range of regional experts and leaders to heads of state, and that they are relevant to the process of transformation following the experience of violence. Therefore, the actors have to be addressed in a contextual manner, using appropriate forms of intervention.

During the decades of the 1980s and 1990s these discussions revolved around the so-called top-down and bottom-up approaches to peace building. Top-down strategies refer to the occasions in which state representatives (those few ‘up there’) manage conflicts for ‘their’ society (the many ‘down there’), while middle range leaders were to serve as transmitters. The broader neo-realist assumptions about inter-state conflicts are clear in this strategy. However, as the 1990s saw the coming of the New Wars as mainly armed conflicts within states, the bottom-up approach to peace building gained momentum. In the latter, civilian populations appear as the main victims of organized violence. Hence, while the grassroots only had a partial view over the complete conflict, they were the most affected by the atrocities and thus needed the grassroots leaders to communicate to the top leaders what was happening on the ground in order to find the best possible solution for the general good. 

Actors Pyramid

In this adapted diagram, we already see the spider web that Lederach (2005) included years later in The Moral Imagination, with the purpose of highlighting the non-mechanistic way of interpreting the pyramid. This means that, instead of a mono-direction in top-down and bottom-up approaches to peace building, in this reworked version the interactions of the different actors would affect one another in feedback loops. All actors influence each other in an endless succession of feedback loops.