Spiralling into the Future

  • Graham Paton


The terms ‘hard’ and’ soft’ have now become embedded in our discourse and the soft-hard dimension has become accepted as reality. Methodological devices have been positioned along the range, which was now established, from the objective and quantitative at the hard end to the subjective and qualitative at the soft end. But this very image (of a range itself) is problematic. It is useful to arraign methodologies on it for purposes of illuminating their relative strengths and weaknesses. However, it is quite wrong to suppose that any real situation is either hard of soft. All include both elements. Which methodological tools to deploy is a decision which is taken by the human actors in any particular situation. The metaphor of a range has no utility (or is positively dangerous) when applied to the situations-to-be-analysed because it encourages us to think in terms of categorising situations as hard or soft, rather than focusing on understanding both of these aspects of a situation.


Soft System Methodology Reflective Practitioner Critical System Thinking Root Definition Total System Intervention 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graham Paton
    • 1
  1. 1.The Open UniversityBristolUK

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