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Pressure Points In The System: Ontological perspectives on the labour of changemaking

Format: Papers, RSD12, Topic: Cases & Practice, Topic: Culture & Society, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Chantal Spencer

In this paper, I present a selection of ontological perspectives of marginalised people in relation to their experiences of labour entangled with existing within the paradigm of changemaking. 

As Meadows explores changemaking through points of leverage in systems (Meadows, 1999), this paper recognises the work of marginalised people that exist at those leverage points. Those who are left with the burden of enacting the change designed by others in more privileged positions. This paper aims to be a snapshot of those pressure points in the system. Testimonios (Morales et al., 2020) that serve to deepen understanding of the radical systemic issues that can occur when mechanistic interventions focus on change rather than means.

Changemaking is often associated with grand ambition, protest, and political reform. However, for marginalised people, it is a constant process of self-advocacy, retrofitting surroundings, relationships, and themselves to simply sustain their existence in a world designed for other people’s comfort (Spencer, 2022a).

However, it is important to note so as not to permeate reductive or abstractive narratives about marginalised people. These stories of oppression and difficulties exist within the colourful and diverse lives of marginalised people. This is not a depiction of the life of persons living on the margins of a dominant culture aimed to promote pity or saviourism. These testimonios are “a crucial means of bearing witness and inscribing into history those lived realities that would otherwise succumb to the alchemy of erasure” (Cepeda, 2021).

When discussing systemic change, Meadows refers to the importance of not using the “same old faucets, plumbed into the same old systems” (Meadows, 1999). These are the stories of those faucets.

KEYWORDS: disability justice, mobility justice, design justice, ontological design, leverage points.

RSD TOPICS: Cases & Practice, Methods & Methodology, Society & Culture

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Citation Data

Author(s): Chantal Spencer
Year: 2023
Title: Pressure Points In The System: Ontological perspectives on the labour of changemaking
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/pressure-points
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
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