Critical Systems Thinking for Citizens

  • Werner Ulrich


If Critical Systems Thinking is to contribute to enlightened societal practice, e.g., with respect to the pressing environmental and social issues of our time, it should be accessible not only to well-trained decision makers and academics but also to a majority of citizens. This implies a need for pragmatizing critical systems ideas in such a way that they can be owned by citizens. The point of “Critical Systems Thinking for Citizens” is thus not that critical systems practitioners (or researchers) are meant to take an advocacy stance in favor of certain groups of citizens but rather that citizens themselves ought to be able to apply basic critical systems ideas on their own behalf. Unless the pragmatization of critical systems ideas is to have ultimately self-defeating elitist implications, the goal of pragmatizing Critical Systems Thinking for Citizens must be Critical Systems Thinking by citizens. In this short essay I argue that Critical Systems Thinking indeed has a potential to give new meaning to the concept of citizenship; it might enable all of us to become more responsible citizens. My question is, how can we harvest this potential? I propose that the way in which we seek to answer this question might constitute an important test for the methodological viability and validity of Critical Systems Thinking.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Werner Ulrich
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Systems StudiesUniversity of HullHullEngland
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of FribourgSwitzerland

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