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Social aspects

Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

Think holistically about the situation and describe the emergent properties of the whole. What kind of effects or characteristics arises from the interplay between all the elements of this problem situation?

Describe the wider societal context and how different groups/stakeholders overlap/interact with each other. What kind of environment does this interaction create?

Describe the dynamics created by the mix of people/groups involved.

Some topics that can be useful to look into are:

  • Culture
  • Criminality, deviance, law and punishment
  • Economics
  • Environment
  • Education
  • Family, gender, and sexuality
  • Health and illness
  • Internet and the web
  • Knowledge and science
  • Literature
  • Media
  • Military
  • Politics
  • Race and ethnic relations
  • Religion
  • Social networks
  • Psychology
  • Stratification, social layers and divide
  • Urban and rural sociology
  • Work and industry

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Advanced topics

Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

In this section you can add articles that describe what we call the social fabric. The social fabric is a term used to describe how people are interwoven into a larger whole.

The social fabric is the basic structure of a society with all its customs and beliefs that make it work as a whole.

In this section we put emphasis on the social and psychological aspects rather than the physical constellations and structure of society.

In the step Setting we summarized the setting or what is going on. In this section we take this a bit further by describing the setting in a wider social context.

Suggested reading

What is the result of the social dynamics?

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What is the social fabric like? Add sub items if the articles grows longer than about 40 lines.

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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

Use this sub section to add links to personal stories of individuals.

The personal story could be an written interview, a video or audio recording. Make sure it is a personal story of only one individual.

Consider adding stories of both people who suffer and from those who gain from the situation.

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Advanced topics

Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

The stories added here are meant to give a personal and human touch to the problem.

These stories help to get a sense of the personal feelings and mindset of the people involved in the situation.

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Personal stories of individuals

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Add a personal story by one or several individuals.

  • The story should be down to earth, direct and the words of people in the middle sof the problem situation.

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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

What are the ambiguities, the disputes and disagreements? What are the conflicts of interest?

Write about current or past conflicts or tensions. What was the conflict about, who was involved, where and how?

Relevant questions to ask in order to identify sources of conflict:

  • How does ethics and morality cause tension?
  • What are the ethical dilemmas?
  • How do resources become sources of tension between people?
  • Are several stakeholders overusing the same resources?
  • How do dependencies become sources of tension? e.g. Dependence on item for livelihood, proximity to item, cultural linkages to item, pre-existing rights to item, knowledge related to stewardship of item.
  • How do people perceive the activities and attitudes of others?
  • What are the tensions related to distribution of wealth?
  • How do policies cause tension between people?
  • What tensions are there around policies etc.?

A few typical causes of conflict:

  • Resources
  • Styles
  • Roles
  • Values
  • Perceptions
  • Policies
  • Goals

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Advanced topics

Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

In any problem situation there will be conflicts in the form of disagreements, conflict of interest, tensions, rivalry and on to more severe forms such as battles, clashes, strife etc.

This sub section helps to get an overview of what people are fighting over and how that is played out. Surfacing these conflicts is important to understand the people who eventually are the key to solving the problem.

Suggested reading

What are the conflicts or tensions?

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The drive for short-term profit has put long-term gains into despair.
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What are the conflicts, tensions or disagreements?

  • Add only the essential conflicts.
  • Don't add the small insignificant disagreements unless they cause long term problems for many people.

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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

  • What is it like to be affected by problem?
  • What do people feel about the issues of the problem?
  • How do people blame others for the problem?
  • What is the emotional health like?
  • Are there any irrational behavior?
  • Are there any repressed or buried emotions?
  • What are the thoughts and daydreams?

Some feelings to look for:

  • Empathy
  • Energy
  • Spirituality
  • Resentments
  • Shock and denial
  • Peace of mind
  • Love
  • Fear and confusion
  • Anger, guilt and imbalance

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Advanced topics

Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

This sub section describes the emotions, feelings and mood of the people involved.

Understanding the perceptions, desires and sentiments is important for designing successful solutions. This sub section helps to identify these human emotional factors.

Suggested reading

What are some of the strong emotions involved?

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Feelings of hopelessness, being overpowered, uncared-for dominate those who don't have the riches to have cars and get around such an otherwise ugly landscape of billboards and commercial push-media.
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Add an item describing the emotions, feelings or mood of people.

Do not include statements about why and what it leads to at this point.


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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

  • What are the world views that cause conflict or stagnation?
  • What are the deleterious habits or mindsets that hamper learning and development?
  • What thinking affects decisions?
  • How do people come to conclusion about things? How do we collect information and decide what are facts?
  • How do people make sense of things?
  • What is the decision processes like?
  • How do people unconsciously move the facts they observe to conclusions and action?
  • Do people within the problem situation support learning by encouraging both inquiry and advocacy?
  • What are some of the dilemmas in thought that hold people back. E.g. If I don't ask questions, I don't learn; but If I do ask questions, I may look stupid.

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Advanced topics

Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

A mental model is the image of the world around us, which we carry in our head. Nobody in his head imagines all the world, government or country. He has only selected concepts, and relationships between them, and uses those to represent the real system. - Jay W. Forrester

A person’s mental model explains the thought process about how something works in the real world. It is a representation of the surrounding world, the relationships between its various parts and a person's intuitive perception about his or her own acts and their consequences.

Understanding the mental models of those involved in the problem is important in order to understand how people think and to be able to design solutions that will be supported by the people.

Suggested reading

What is the thinking of people involved in the problem?

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*"I don't need to care about others, others should take care of themselves". * "I'm going to get what I can, because I don't want to be like those low-lifes I see out there who have nothing." *"I'm going to pretend like there's no problem--things will always be this way."
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Add a text describing the world view, the beliefs or assumptions of people involved.

  • Make it clear who has this mental model.

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Development issues