Moving beyond Value Conflicts: Systems Thinking in Action

Gerald Midgley
14 November 2022

Value conflicts can become entrenched in destructive patterns of mutual stigmatization, which inhibit the emergence of new understandings of the situation and actions for improvement. In extreme cases, such patterns can even lead to violence.

This presentation offers a new systems theory of value conflict, which suggests the possibility of three different strategies for intervention: supporting people in transcending overly narrow value judgements about what is important to them; seeking to widen people’s boundaries of the issues that they consider relevant; and attempting to challenge stereotyping and stigmatization by building better mutual understanding. Each of these three strategies is illustrated with practical examples from natural resource management projects in New Zealand.

Gerald Midgley, Centre for Systems Studies, University of Hull, Hull, HU6 7RX