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Environment and History

Ecology and Ideology in the General Systems Community

Debora Hammond

Environment and History 3(1997): 197-207

This paper gives an account of the participatory, democratic and pluralistic perspectives of Boulding and other important figures in the General Systems Community (GSC). It contrasts their perspectives with the technocratic approach of H.T. Odum, as analysed in particular by Peter Taylor. It argues that GSC's concern with systems in relation to their environment is more complex than simply mediated energy, information or currency flows crossing the boundaries of Odum's systems. This ensures there is no privileged place for an outside observer/manipulator of the GSC system; in fact, the analyst is often part of the GSC system. Moreover, the interactions within GSC systems are not reduced to a simple metric, such as Odum's energy currency.


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