Abstract for: Integrating Diverse Perspectives: Meaning-Making Process in Participatory System Dynamics

Participatory Modelling is a distinct approach in the field of System Dynamics, aiming to include stakeholders in a formal process of model development. Scholars have investigated the micro-level interactions between stakeholders and explored how those arrive to common meanings and coordinate further action. We delve deeper into this question from a Meadian and neo-Meadian social theoretical perspective and find that GMB can be considered a symbolic meaning-making activity entailing perspective-taking between participants. Symbols are proposed by the stakeholders and represented as object/variables which are constantly expanded and enhanced with the perspectives of other members. This process leads to the coordination of participants’ perspectives and allows for the emergence of possibilities for action that may have not been imagined before. We also explore how the different social positions that participants occupy can become central during their interactions, and observe that conflicts can emerge due to the failure to identify being in the position of the other. Based on our findings, we propose that practice can benefit from decentring (transient) positions that may impede participants’ ability to take the perspective of the other toward themselves.