Reprising “wicked problems”: social learning, climate change adaptation and the sustainable management of water

Ison, Raymond (2008). Reprising “wicked problems”: social learning, climate change adaptation and the sustainable management of water. In: Proc. 2008 ANZSYS (Australia NZ Systems Society) Conference, 1-2 Dec 2008, Perth.

URL: http://anzsys.org/index.php/anzsys08-conference/an...

Abstract

An inquiry into the practices of neologising, reifying (and categorizing and typologising) was conducted through the use of a question: what is it that we do when we do what we do? as an heuristic device. The systemic inquiry was motivated by an awareness that the terms “wicked” and “tame” problems, coined forty year sago have been poorly taken u despite growing evidence that situations with the named features of “wicked problems” abound and are of increasing concern to humans (e.g. the global water crisis and human-induced climate change). It was concluded that the processes of transforming understandings and practices by taking up the concept of “wicked problems” can be hampered by (i) the way in which language acts as a social technology and (ii) arrangements that preclude novel configurations in the flow of emotioning, crucial to epistemic and identity shift. Practices associated with the coining, acceptance and reification of new concepts can also produce unintended consequences. These findings have implications fro research design in a “projectified world”.

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