Skip to main content

Soft Systems Methodologies in Action: Environment, Health & Shanghai’s Elderly

Abstract

This research explored the perception of elderly citizens in Shanghai about negative health impacts of environmental issues. A soft systems methodology (SSM) framework was employed with methodological tools including rich pictures, workshops, social system model building and comparison of models. We found that among our elderly participants, recent government and media campaigns have created the perception that environmental conditions have improved due to government initiatives. The exception to this view is among the educated participants of the study. This suggests that powers of nested social hierarchies and governmental media control still have a dominant influence on public opinion in Shanghai, creating barriers for citizen recognition and understanding of environmental health issues. Education and open access to information are potential areas for intervention to improve understanding and empowerment in this area.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Notes

  1. 1.

    The Chi Square Test results are presented with the degree of freedom and number of participants in parentheses followed by the Chi Square value and the level at which the test is significant. Level of testing was set at p = 0.05, the standard for social sciences.

References

  1. Beck U (1992) Risk society: towards a new modernity. SAGE, London

    Google Scholar 

  2. Becker E (1997) The denial of death. Free Press Paperbacks, New York

    Google Scholar 

  3. Cao J, Yang C, Li J, Chen R, Chen B, Gu D, Kan H (2011) Association between long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution and mortality in China: a cohort study. J Hazar Mater 186(2–3):1594–1600. doi:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2010.12.036

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Checkland PB (1981) Systems thinking, systems practice. Wiley, Toronto

    Google Scholar 

  5. Checkland PB (1999) Soft systems methodology: a 30-year retrospective. In: Soft systems methodology in action, (1999 reprint of 1990 ed.). Wiley, Toronto, p A1–A66

  6. Checkland P, Checkland P (1999) Soft systems methodology: a 30-year retrospective; and systems thinking, systems practice. Wiley, Chichester

    Google Scholar 

  7. Checkland PB, Scholes J (1990) Soft systems methodology in action. Wiley, Toronto

    Google Scholar 

  8. Checkland P, Scholes J (2005) Soft systems methodology in action: a 30-year retrospective. Wiley, Chichester

    Google Scholar 

  9. Cleland D, Wyborn C (2010) A reflective lens: applying critical systems thinking and visual methods to ecohealth research. EcoHealth 7(4):414–424. doi:10.1007/s10393-010-0362-6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Elliott LM (2004) The global politics of the environment. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke

    Google Scholar 

  11. FlorCruz M. (2013). Chinese law requires children to visit elderly parents. http://www.ibtimes.com/chinese-law-requires-children-visit-elderly-parents-987796. Retrieved April 7, 2014

  12. Gerth K (2011) As China goes, so goes the world: how Chinese consumers are transforming everything. Godalming: Hill and Wang, New York; Melia [distributor]

  13. Gong P, Liang S, Carlton EJ, Jiang Q, Wu J, Wang L, Remais JV (2012) Urbanisation and health in China. Lancet 379(9818):843–852. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61878-3

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. He Q (2008) The fog of censorship: media control in China. Human Rights in China, New York

    Google Scholar 

  15. He J, Gu D, Wu X, Reynolds K, Duan X, Yao C, Wang J, Chen CS, Chen J, Wildman RP, Klag MJ, Whelton PK (2005) Major causes of death among men and women in China. N Engl J Med 353(11):1124–1134. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa050467

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Huang W, Tan J, Kan H, Zhao N, Song W, Song G, Chen G, Jiang L, Jiang C, Chen R, Chen B (2009) Visibility, air quality and daily mortality in Shanghai, China. Sci Total Environ 407(10):3295–3300. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.02.019

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Joseph WA (2010) Politics in China: an introduction. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  18. Kan H (2011) Climate change and human health in China. Environ Health Perspect 119(2):A60–A61

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Kan H, Chen R, Tong S (2012) Ambient air pollution, climate change, and population health in China. Environ Int 42:10–19. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2011.03.003

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Kish K (2013) A systems approach to health and well-being in China. Thesis for Masters of Environmental Studies. York University

  21. Krippendorff KH (2013) Content analysis—3rd Edition: an introduction to its methodology. SAGE Publications Inc., Thousand Oaks

    Google Scholar 

  22. Lash S, Urry J (1994) Economies of signs and space, vol 1. Sage Publications, London

    Google Scholar 

  23. Lee C (ed) (2000) Power, money, and media: communication patterns and bureaucratic control in cultural china. Northwestern University Press

  24. Liu GG, Zhao Z, Cai R, Yamada T, Yamada T (2002) Equity in health care access to: assessing the urban health insurance reform in China. Social Sci Med 55(10):1779–1794

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. McNally CA (2012) Sino-capitalism: China’s reemergence and the international political economy. World Polit 64(4):741–776

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Midgley G (2000) Systemic intervention: philosophy, methodology, and practice. Kluwer Academic, New York

    Book  Google Scholar 

  27. Rowen HS (2007) When will the Chinese people be free? J Democr 18(3):38–52. doi:10.1353/jod.2007.0055

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. The Lancet (2012) What can be learned from China’s health system? Lancet 379(9818):777. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60327-4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. TOXIC: Linfen, China | VICE Canada (2008). http://www.vice.com/en_ca/toxic/toxic-linfen-china. Retrieved April 7, 2014

  30. Ulrich W (1983) Critical heuristics of social planning: a new approach to practical philosophy. Wiley, New York

    Google Scholar 

  31. Wang Y, Zhuang G, Zhang X, Huang K, Xu C, Tang A, Chen J, An Z (2006) The ion chemistry, seasonal cycle, and sources of PM2.5 and TSP aerosol in Shanghai. Atmos Environ 40(16):2935–2952. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2005.12.051

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Yan X (2011) Regime inclusion and the resilience of authoritarianism: the local people’s political consultative conference in post-mao chinese politics. China J 66:53–75

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Zhang X, Prybutok VR (2005) How the mobile communication markets differ in China, the U.S., and Europe. Commun ACM 48(3):111–114. doi:10.1145/1047671.1047678

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Zhao Q, Gao W, Xiang W, Shi R, Liu C, Zhai T, Huang HL, Gumley LE, Strabala K (2013) Analysis of air quality variability in Shanghai using AOD and API data in the recent decade. Front Earth Sci 7(2):159–168. doi:10.1007/s11707-013-0357-z

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Katie Kish.

Ethics declarations

This research involved human participants.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kish, K., Bunch, M.J. & Xu, B.J. Soft Systems Methodologies in Action: Environment, Health & Shanghai’s Elderly. Syst Pract Action Res 29, 61–77 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11213-015-9353-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Soft systems methodology
  • China
  • Health
  • Media
  • Systems thinking