MOVING BEYOND VALUE CONFLICTS: SYSTEMIC PROBLEM STRUCTURING IN ACTION

Gerald Midgley

Abstract


Value conflicts can become entrenched in a destructive pattern of mutual stigmatization, which inhibits the emergence of new understandings of the situation and actions for improvement. In extreme cases, such patterns can even lead to violence. This paper offers a new systems theory of value conflict, which suggests the possibility of three different strategies for intervention using problem structuring methods: supporting people in transcending overly narrow value judgements about what is important to them; seeking to widen people’s boundaries of the issues that they consider relevant; and attempting to challenge stereotyping and stigmatization by building better mutual understanding. Each of these three strategies is illustrated with practical examples from operational research projects on natural resource management in New Zealand.

Keywords


community operational research; conflict; critical systems thinking; natural resource management; problem structuring methods

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