The Role of Systems Methodology in Social Science Research
While general systems research has had a considerable impact on research in the social sciences, this impact has been mainly conceptual and has not served to provide the operational and methodological aids for research which are possible. In addition, many of those systems-oriented directions and results which do impact social science research have developed inde pendently and in piecemeal fashion in recent decades. The main develop ment of this book is a cohesive framework within which to integrate results of general systems research and which provides a means for the organiza tion of data and observations - and operational procedures by which to proceed - in the investigation and study of social and socio-technical systems. The book systematically develops in the first five chapters ail of the basic concepts and aspects which make up the framework, showing wherever possible the main sources of these concepts and placing them in historical perspective. The developments of the first five chapters are pulled together and integrated, in the last chapter, into a conceptual and operational general systems problem solving framework which extends the investiga tive capabilities of researchers of specific systems. The last chapter also contains an example of an overall investigation which utilizes the frame work and which proceeds from system definition through the derivation of explanatory knowledge regarding the object system and which illustrates in detail most of the concepts and elements of the framework.