chapter  22
What kinds of ‘systems’ are we dealing with?
Implications for systems research and scaling
ByCees Leeuwis, Seerp Wigboldus
Pages 15

This chapter deals with intertwined configurations in which bio-material relations are mediated by social and symbolic phenomena. It discusses how such configurations may change, and what roles research may play in this when taking into account some special features of intertwined configurations that complicate deliberate attempts to foster change. It is argued that, in order to help realize public values, research needs to become a mechanism which informs adaptation to ever changing conditions, and leverage the emergence of novel bio-material, social and symbolic opportunities. This requires a considerable change in the way research processes are predominantly organized and embedded in society. The chapter describes three basic types that can be combined with each other: research aimed at describing and understanding complexity; research aimed at identifying key leverages, opportunities and constraints; and research aimed at enlarging variation in society. Technical changes at farm level may well be contingent on the achievement of changes in labour organization, land-tenure policy, market organization and credit provision.