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4.2 New ways of thinking and acting: systems practice

There are a wide variety of concepts and theories relating to management and managing. This unit is centred on the ideas and techniques that we believe define systems thinking, but it also draws upon concepts and theories from other areas where these are deemed to be useful. On top of this we see systems practice as requiring a readiness to use the experiential model of learning set out by Kolb, bringing theory and practice together in a meaningful way.

It may be helpful to set out what
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4.1 What it means to be good at managing

What does it mean to be ‘good at managing’ and what part does systems thinking and practice play? One way to explore the first question is to ask what you know about your work that a school leaver, or someone fresh from university, would not know. Consider a senior secretary, for example, someone who clearly has a fair amount of managing to do, in our terms. Such a person must have certain basic skills and knowledge (in word-processing, filing, etc.) the foundation of which will have been
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4 Introduction

(Please refer to Reading 4: Learning to act: managing and systems practice, by Andy Lane) This unit teaches some aspects of systems thinking and practice. But what does it mean to be a systems practitioner, and is it different to being a manager? This reading attempts to answer those questions.

First, I believe a good systems practitioner will be more competent at handling complex situations, more capable of managing their working and domestic lives, and more able to learn not only how
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2.2 Memorising, understanding and doing

You are now likely to be aware of various ways in which learning is diverse – as a process and in terms of its outcomes. In this final section is a very simple scheme for discriminating between the demands made on you, the learner, by different kinds of learning goals and the processes entailed in achieving those goals.

Theorists of learning have different ways of categorising the diversity of both outcome and process in learning. The scheme we are going to work with here uses three d
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3.6 Failure sequence

Following the discovery of the broken eye bar near the top of the northern suspension chain on the Ohio side of the bridge (Figure 36), it was possible to reconstruct the sequence of events during the collapse.

When the side chain separated, the entire structure was destabilised, simply b
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3.3 The investigation

The investigation took three years to complete, although critical evidence emerged within weeks of the accident.

Some possibilities could be ruled out immediately. For example, there were rumours of supernatural forces at work that night, but very little solid evidence of the ‘Mothman’ emerged, either there or anywhere else. The Mothman was a demon purportedly haunting the bridge, which has supposedly appeared as a portent of similar disasters around the world. Such stories would ha
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8.8 Hinduism as ‘a world religion’: a more recent understanding

Traditionally, as we have seen, a Hindu was someone born to Hindu parents and into a caste with its appropriate dharma. The link between religious practice and a whole way of life bound the individual into a community from birth. Regional factors, parentage and caste affiliation largely determi
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8.3 Worship in temples and street shrines

Apart from being intensely visible, participation in devotional practice at temples and festivals is extremely widespread within popular Hinduism. If we make allowance for regional and sectarian variations, we can gain some truly representative insights into a central preoccupation of living Hinduism. As in Section 6, I would like you to look
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8.2 The diversity of Hinduism

The complex tradition now known as Hinduism has emerged largely from the coming together of four main elements:

  1. The traditions of the original inhabitants of India, some of which may still continue in the cultures of India's more remote tribal peoples.

  2. The influences of the Indus Valley civilisation that flourished in northwest India until approximately the middle of the second millenium bce.

    <
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8.1 Hinduism as a ‘religion’

India's population includes followers of many religions and many people who have rejected religion in any form. The modern Republic of India has a secular constitution (one which guarantees the religious freedom of all but does not give a privileged position to any one religion) but a population which overwhelmingly identifies itself as Hindu. More than eighty per cent of India's population are Hindus, practitioners of what is now widely referred to as the religion of Hinduism. Historically,
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7.5 Religion: a ‘good’ thing or a ‘bad’ thing?

In considering the value of religions, we can begin by saying that one of the first tasks of the critical student should certainly be to test the basis of judgements offered by other commentators. We saw earlier that the Church of Scientology has had problems gaining official recognition as a ‘relig
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7.4 Religion: true or false?

I noted earlier that differences between the truth claims made by religions has led those who practise Religious Studies to avoid premature judgements when dealing with questions relating to the truth and value of particular religions. By seeming to by-pass truth claims, you may feel that what I have been describing as Religious Studies avoids what many would regard as the purpose of religion – to deal in truths. This is a difficult area to cover briefly, but let me at least try to explain
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7.1 Some basic principles of religious studies

Remember that in Section 4 I suggested that possible reasons for studying religion could be clustered together under two broad headings:

  1. to understand the society in which we live, the culture we inherit and the wider world of which we are a part;

  2. as part of a personal quest for religious
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6.1 Introduction

Whatever else they may be, religions grow in historical and social settings. The present form of a religion has its roots in the past. Religion can exercise a strong influence upon society and the cultural forms of a society, but religion itself is no less affected by changes and pressures within society. Religion gives meaning to a pattern of living and may even be responsible for establishing a certain lifestyle or distinctive social organisation or institution. At the same time, religion o
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5.5 Common sense and analysis

Faced with the choice between narrow substantive definitions and broad functional definitions, we should require any definition to ‘fit with broad common-sense reflection’ and ‘encompass what ordinary people mean when they talk of religion’ (Bruce, 1995, p. ix). The definition must also assist in the analysis and explanation of what is being studied. For these reasons, Steve Bruce, who is a leading sociologist of religion, opts for the following substantive defini
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5.4 A dimensional model of religion

Given the problems of devising a succinct definition of religion, some contemporary scholars have produced broader profiles of religion without claiming to identify one distinguishing characteristic. One example of this kind of approach is the seven-dimensional model of religion proposed by Ninian Smart, a specialist in the study of world religions. Smart argues that, if his model is adequate, ‘then we do not need to worry greatly about further definition of religion’ (Smart, 1989, p. 21)
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5.3 Scholarly definitions of religion

Scholars offer us many different definitions of religion, but these definitions tend to be of two types. The first type is known as a substantive definition: that is, a definition that tells us what kind of thing religion is by pointing to its distinguishing characteristic – usually its beliefs and/or practices. We can find an example of a substantive definition of religion in my summary of the definitions found in the Concise Oxford Dictionary. Think again about d. Acc
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5.2 The ‘answer’ in your dictionary

Exercise 9

Please now look at the definition of ‘religion’ given in your dictionary.

  1. Do you think that the definition is going to help you when deciding what is or is not religion? Please give
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