Inter-work and Ethical Vigilance: Two Scenarios for the (Post-)Pandemic Future of Systems Thinking

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For several decades, systems thinking has been a defined body of knowledge that has contributed to many areas of science. Its value has, critically, resided in (meta- or post-) paradigmatic and participative use of one or several systems approaches to help stakeholders’ structure and tackle complex problems. With renewed and (post-)pandemic interest in interdisciplinary work, this paper argues that to continue securing a future, system thinking requires a wider understanding of the dynamics and intertwining of knowledge unfolding and ethics in society. Two different but overlapping scenarios for systems thinking are proposed: (a) One based on inter-(disciplinary, para/professional, group) work and (b) another based on ethical vigilance. The first one is not so different from what has been envisaged for systems thinking in the last few years. Nevertheless, and following the ideas of the sociologist Andrew Abbott, this scenario proposes the explicit inclusion of the goal of knowledge rediscovery to promote a sense of solidarity, mutual understanding and compassion. For the second scenario, Michel Foucault’s notion of governmentality is used to problematize pandemic events and practices, and to offer possibilities for individual critical thinking and action, also leading us to consider the importance of (self-other) compassion. Features, implications, questions and examples of use are provided for each scenario.
Original languageEnglish
Article number36
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2020


  • systems thinking
  • knowledge rediscovery
  • approaches
  • governmentality
  • ethics
  • Coronavirus
  • Pandemic
  • Abbott
  • Foucault

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