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Comprehension of Appropriateness

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Comprehension of Appropriateness
Assumptions
Concrete vs. Theoretical
Comprehending complexity
Metaphors: a resource for inter-paradigmatic comprehension
Collective comprehension span: the time dimension
Diversity and its comprehension
Diversity of complementary functions: ordering requisite variety
Configuration of modes as a resonance hybrid
Need for insightful metaphors
Comprehending the status of the new mode
Patterns of policy cycles
Impotence of appropriateness: the dilemma of Nth order modes
Paradoxical strategies
Conclusion
References

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Paper submitted to Rome workshop, 10-13 September 1986, of the Project on Economic Aspects of Human Development (EAHD) of the Regional and Global Studies Division of the United Nations University. [also a searchable PDF version]
Introduction 
Assumptions 
Concrete vs Theoretical 
Comprehending complexity 
Metaphors: a resource for inter-paradigmatic comprehension 
Collective comprehension span: the time dimension 
Diversity and its comprehension 
Diversity of complementary functions: ordering requisite variety 
Configuration of modes as a resonance hybrid 
Need for insightful metaphors 
Comprehending the status of the new mode 
Patterns of policy cycles 
Impotence of appropriateness: the dilemma of Nth order modes 
Paradoxical strategies 
Conclusion 

References 
Annexes 
1: Dimensions of comprehension diversity 
2: Communicable insights 
3: Interpretation of cross-cultural information processing 
Figures 1-8 


Introduction

This paper explores certain assumptions associated with the comprehension of socio-economic systems appropriate to optimum human development. It questions the notion which seems to prevail that any desirable alternative is readily comprehensible and that the inherent logic of it can render it credible, whether in scholarly discussion or in the court of public opinion. 

In particular, although recognizing the vital importance of such initiatives, the paper questions the status enthusiastically attributed to socio-economic alternatives, such as have been recently articulated in The Other Economic Summit series (London, 1984, 1985) and presented in book form (1). In contrast this paper focuses not on the merits of particular modes of organization (however attractive), but rather on the apparent need to shift periodically between policies or modes of socio-economic organization - as exemplified by the very recent decisions of the Chinese leadership to correct certain inadequacies in their own economic system by switching from an established Maoist mode to 'other approaches', where appropriate, including approaches characteristic of modes opposed to theirs (e.g. legalization of bankruptcies, discontinuation of guaranteed job security). 

This paper also questions our collective ability to produce a rationally designed response to the global problematique as is, for example, suggested by recent studies emerging from United Nations University projects. In criticizing progress towards a New International Economic Order (2) or in reflecting on the global problematique in terms of 'development as social transformation' (3), the authors of these studies believe in the possibility of bringing about some 'fundamentally new' mode of socio-economic organization, 'but only if we recognize (the NIEO) for what it is and what it means in terms of the fundamental logic of world economy....it is not possible to grasp the wholesomeness of this fundamental logic outside the emerging 'world-system approach' to the study of our contemporary capitalist historic world system.'(2, p. x). Whilst the penetration of such studies is highly valuable, it is argued here that their assumptions concerning their own privileged relationship to the new mode fail to embody dimensions vital to the appropriateness of such a mode. 

The body of this paper develops work done by the author in the UNU project of Goals, Process and Indicators of Development and published in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential (4, especially Sections CM and KD). The Annexes are adapted from work done for the UNU project on Information Overload and Information Underuse (5). 


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