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This is not a blog which opinionates on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers to muse about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

The Bucegi mountains - the range I see from the front balcony of my mountain house - are almost 120 kms from Bucharest and cannot normally be seen from the capital but some extraordinary weather conditions allowed this pic to be taken from the top of the Intercontinental Hotel in late Feb 2020

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

From the Stable State to total Disruption?

We live in chaotic times and I have been trying in recent weeks to map how various authors have tred to make sense for us of the changes which our societies have been experiencing simce I was a boy. My drafts never seem to finish but I am reasonably content with the new one I now present - From the Stable State to Disrupted Societies (with a short 14-page version being available here

My own focus has tended to be on the institutional and political aspects of change – but as this paper has developed I realised that I had largely neglected the technological and commercial aspects of change. And, as more and more titles have appeared about the pending collapse of the western system. I have included these – as well as samples of the scientific writing which suggests that, in the face of the complexity of the world, we all require a huge dash of humility.

Table One suggests these are the key fields of writing – and offers a few examples

The Level

The Focus


1 individual



In Over our Heads – the mental demands of modern life Robert Kegan 1995

2. techno-logical

Engineering and economic

The Discoverers; Daniel Boorstin (1983)

The collected works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 2014 (on creativity)

The Technology Trap; Karl Frey (2019)

Rethinking Humanity James Arbib and Tony Seba 2020

3 organisation


2.1 Commercial – managing change, Organ Development

In Search of Excellence Peters and Waterman 1982

Managing Change in Organisations Colin Carnall (5th edition 2007)

Management challenges for the 21st century Peter Drucker (2001)

Managing Change; Bernard Burnes (2004)

2.2 Public – new public management, public value

Reinventing Government Graeber and Osborne (1992)

Change here – managing change to improve local services (Audit Commission 2001)

Appraising public value; past, present and futures (2011) useful (academic) summary article

Public Value Management – governance and reform in Britain; John Connolly et al (2021)

2,3 Non-governmental

Creating Public Value in Practice – advancing the common good in a ….noone in charge world J Bryson and B Crosby (2015)

4 societal

Social change

complexity, the adaptive cycle

Change the World Robert Quinn (2000)

Power in movement – social movement and contentious politics; Sydney Tarrow (2011 edition)

Can Democracy be Saved? - participation, deliberation and social movements; Donatella Della Porta (2013)

Panarchy – understanding transformations in human and natural systems N Gunderson and C Holling 2002

5 Networked

The dynamic between the levels

Life and How to Survive it R Skynner and J Cleese 1993

The Rise of the Network Society; Manual Castells (1996)

The World We Create Tomas Bjorkman 2019

Unlearn – a compass for radical transformation Hans Burmeister (2021)

I have already drawn attention to the fact that there are few papers on the all-embracing nature of change. It is a subject which is highly compartmentalised and table 1 of From the Stable State to Disrupted Societies is the core which describes each of the schools of writing

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