What Is This Thing Called CST?

  • Gerald Midgley


This chapter introduces and critiques some early ideas about Critical Systems Thinking (CST), a research perspective that is said to embrace a set of fundamental commitments. Five were identified by Jackson (1991a), and three by Schecter (1991) and Flood and Jackson (1991a).1 The three commitments are:
  • Critical awareness—examining and reexamining taken-for-granted assumptions, along with the conditions that give rise to them

  • Emancipation—ensuring that research is focused on “improvement,” defined temporarily and locally, taking issues of power (which may affect the definition) into account

  • Methodological pluralism—using a variety of research methods in a theoretically coherent manner, becoming aware of their strengths and weaknesses, to address a corresponding variety of issues.

The definitions given above are my own. They are inevitably an oversimplification of the range of issues considered important by critical systems thinkers, but are useful for indicating the general interests pursued by proponents of the perspective.


Critical System Critical Awareness System Methodology Soft System Methodology Operational Research Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald Midgley
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Systems StudiesUniversity of HullHullEngland

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