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A Discussion to Learn about Sustainable Welfare Systems Functioning

Format: Papers, RSD12, RSD12 Papers Pre-release

Linda Blaasvær and Tore Gulden

A typical approach when designing a system for social service functioning in the European and Norwegian contexts is to emphasize what does not function—i.e., one does not ask for reasons behind the existence of conforming or agreeable behavior; rather, it is divergent behavior that is studied [1, 2]. A consequence of such a perspective may produce research designs and develop projects seeking to understand and describe phenomena such as alienation, vulnerability, and feelings of malfunctioning. To elaborate, such studies aim to describe relations rather than differences [1, 2]; the latter can be understood as the former. However, difference, as per Niklas Luhmann’s understanding, indicates how relational descriptions are always logical and causal and thus lack the descriptions of paradoxes that produce agreeable functioning. Design based on causality may lead to the implementation of specific plans, while design that builds on the understanding of societal functioning as something that can emerge out of what seems paradoxical may lead to the design of a direction for a system. In this article, we will discuss how design processes that seek to implement a plan may differ from the processes that aim to initiate a direction [4] in the context of public services. We will describe these dimensions through existing descriptions and exemplify their differences in functioning through the notions of maintenance and the value of care [3]. A sustainable system can be socially equitable and culturally committed to our common resource base, as it is our life-support system [8]. A sustainable welfare system has the following characteristics: 1. With one or more meaningful, moral, and satisfying goals, the system offers a sense of sufficiency. 2. Positive feedback loops are balanced by negative feedback loops at an appropriate scale. 3. The system possesses clean, clear, fast, and compelling information flows. We protect our resource base so that it is resilient and capable of self-organizing and evolving. These dimensions will be discussed further in relation to how the functioning they create influences democracy through the behavior they produce.
Keywords: sustainable system functioning
leverage points
cybernetics
representation
method development

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Citation Data

Author(s): Linda Blaasvær and Tore Gulden
Year: 2023
Title: A Discussion to Learn about Sustainable Welfare Systems Functioning
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/sustainable-welfare-systems
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

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD12

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