This paper makes the case for, and calls for participants in, an interdisciplinary research program exploring the development of theatrical methods of social system modeling. It combines argumentation that synthesizes concepts from the theatre and the system sciences with results from a pilot application of some of the modeling methods discussed. Theatrical methods of modeling facilitate surprising insights regarding the impacts of emotion and other non-trivial factors on system behaviour that are difficult to address in purely computational and diagrammatic forms of modeling. While a theoretical relationship between systems approaches and the theatrical techniques discussed has been articulated elsewhere, this paper is the first to propose a more fulsome exploration of the potentialities of this relationship for systems praxis.
Valentinov V. (2012) System–environment relations in the theories of open and autopoietic systems: Implications for critical systems thinking. Systemic Practice and Action Research 25: 537–542. https://cepa.info/7653
This short paper revisits Bertalanffy’s open systems theory and Luhmann’s theory of autopoietic social systems in order to highlight the linkage between systemic complexity and the carrying capacity of the environment. Being paradigmatically focused on biological complexity, Bertalanffy’s work shows this linkage to be relatively unproblematic. In contrast, Luhmann argued that autopoietic social systems are likely to develop excessive complexity which overstrains the environment’s carrying capacity. The paper synthesizes these conceptions into a framework of discretionary social decision-making aimed at preventing systemic complexity from becoming excessive. Rooted in the idea of balancing the system and the environment, this framework determines the optimal level of systemic complexity as that level which systems can maximally attain without incurring the risk of self-destruction. The system–environment balance is shown to be the general systems theory core of Ulrich’s critical systems heuristics and critical systems thinking more generally.