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Metaphorum 2023 – Viability through emancipation

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Metaphorum Conference

(20 years after Stafford’s passing)

Viability through emancipation – or the hidden agenda of viability

Manchester, UK, 08 – 10 June, 2023

Video Recordings


Emancipation is an important landmark of progress in our social systems. The challenge is how to set ourselves free and yet maintain our relationships to work together effectively and bring about the systemic changes we so urgently need. For us to truly emancipate ourselves and flourish, we also need to be viable – individually and collectively. Viability is the capacity to have and maintain autonomous, conscious, responsible, and independent existence. Emancipation implies a need to rethink the intended purpose of human organisation – to define new adaptive pathways towards a flourishing future for all.

In our conference we seek to review how Beer’s original ideas, among other systems approaches, offer clear criteria and tools to facilitate emancipatory systemic changes. We also invite people to reflect on the barriers and obstacles to emancipation and to systemic change. Thus, we welcome presentations and workshops that explore:

  • The notion of emancipation emerging from individual and collective changes of cognition, awareness, and perception, and being an engine for viability.
  • The notion of viability as the capacity to continue existing – or to cease to exist in a given moment of time. This contributes to the ultimate goal of preserving the integrity of the ecosystems and communities to which we belong and with which we co-evolve.
  • The barriers to emancipation as they have been experienced and understood in different interventions – as well as a reflection on how to overcome them.
  • The notions of co-evolution and perpetual change – hence the need for requisite experimentation as a core strategy for viability and resilience.
  • The characteristics of systemic change, and ways of designing experiments to promote intentional transitions.
  • The unpredictable and surprising routes through which systemic innovations proliferate over time.
  • Examples of applications of a range of approaches aimed at facilitating systemic change in different organisational contexts.
  • Experiences of seeds of change sown in the past, which contributed to the awakening of consciousness and desire for change, and over time produced new systems configurations.
  • The need to revisit the toolbox for viability – Beer’s visionary theories and tools for the development of more robust and resilient self-governing systems.
  • Open research paths for further developing the viability theory to support emancipatory systemic change.

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