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Reviving the Idea of Civil Society Our contemporary notion of citizenship is dominated by the concept of civil rights. Marshall's seminal study on Citizenship and Social Class, we have become used to associate citizenship with three basic kinds of citizen rights: It is questionable, though, whether this notion of citizenship is still satisfactory.
The ongoing process of "modernization" has changed the meaning and relevance of classical citizen rights. The process of the "rationalization" of society, as Max Weber e.
Conventional citizen rights do not enable citizens sufficiently to control this process and its repercussions upon their daily lifeworlds. Important issues such as industrial democracy or the democratic control of science and technology are not really a part of our contemporary concept of citizenship.
A different concept of citizenship is required today, one that would give a central part to civil competencies rather than to rights only. I think a new, increasingly differentiated and decentralized kind of political culture or perhaps, at times, subculture is emerging in many societies, a political culture in which an increasing number of citizens and citizen groups develop a new awareness and new skills of evaluating and influencing the activities and omissions of the old steering centers.
It is certainly significant that the old idea of a civil society currently enjoys a remarkable renaissance. This is not to deny that there also exist important counter-tendencies toward increasing political abstinence e.
The phenomenon of political abstinence within the old political system is probably itself a symptomatic expression of the shift of the political to new political arenas, it need not necessarily mean a general loss of political interest. Citizens turn away from the institutionalized political system which, they feel, does not give them a sufficiently competent and meaningful role rather than from the res publica as such.
Take, for example, the observation that when environmental issues are at stake, citizens in many societies now increasingly dare to "think for themselves": Who else if not active citizens can ultimately be expected to be in charge of controlling the increasingly threatening repercussions of the rationalization process upon the social lifeworld?
What at first sight may look like a late triumph of the enlightenment project of modernity has, however, paradoxical post-modern implications: Civil rights are an essential issue in this process of change, but they are not enough.
With the rediscovery of civil society, effective participation of citizens in the governance of collective affairs becomes a central theme of the concept of citizenship. And so does, as a consequence, the idea of an enabling or empowering state, i. Active and competent citizenship is therefore a key challenge to which CST for professionals and citizens aims to contribute.
Reviving the Idea of Professionalism Similarly to the concept of citizenship, the contemporary concept of professionalism is not usually understood in terms of the reflective skills required for effective participation in civil society.
Professionalism today is more often defined rather one-sidedly in terms of expertise. However, true competence reveals itself through responsibility. In a civil society, expertise alone is not a source of sufficient legitimation for the consequences that professional intervention may impose on citizens.
In view of the ever-growing scope of professional intervention, professionals need new critical skills that enable them to identify such consequences systematically and to deal with them in a self-reflective and open way.
That is to say, reflective competencies as we just required them from citizens also need to become an integral part of our concept of professionalism. There exists a deep connection between the two concepts of competent citizenship and professionalism.
Just as citizenship requires not only civil rights but also some critical competencies, competence requires not only expertise but also a proper understanding of citizenship.
I therefore propose that we should teach future professionals to understand and practice their professional competence not only in terms of expertise but equally in terms of competent citizenship.
Thus, only that professional will be considered a competent professional who also is a competent citizen, in the sense intended above. But of course, strategies of promoting critical competencies in professionals and citizens must rely on an approach that is sufficiently basic and general to be accessible to a majority of ordinary people.
Critical systems thinking CST as I understand it offers us a way to develop such an approach, provided we are willing to pragmatize critical systems ideas adequately.
Reviving the Systems Idea The question thus poses itself: What critical systems ideas, if any, might become a source of the envisaged critical competencies for a great majority of ordinary citizens and professionals?Abstract.
Critical systems thinking is a relative newcomer in the systems tradition of thought. Nevertheless, it has already made a number of significant contributions to the field and is now developing more quickly than any other part of systems thinking.
Critical systems thinking (CST) is a development of systems thinking that aims to support good practice of all forms of applied systems thinking and professional intervention.
In its simplest definition, CST is applied systems thinking in the service of good practice. If your company is a member of The RBL Institute be sure to use your company email address.
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Critical systems thinking is a systems thinking framework that wants to bring unity to the diversity of different systems approaches and advises managers how best to use them. Critical Systems Thinking according to Bammer (). Today, research in the RNA world is a medium-sized industry.
Scientists in this field are able to demonstrate that random sequences of RNA sometimes exhibit useful properties. Abstract The goal of my research program on "Critical Systems Thinking (CST) for Professionals & Citizens" (Ulrich, , b, ) is to develop and pragmatize critical systems ideas so that ordinary professionals and citizens – all of us – can apply them.