Soft Systems Special Issue Editorial

Anne Toomey (Guest editor), Elaine Igoe (Guest editor), Amy K.M. Winters (Guest editor), Elif Ozden-Yenigun (Guest editor), Sara Robertson (Guest editor)

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This special issue probes the practice of textiles and material-led researchers from both methodological and applied definitions of “soft systems.” In organisational management, “soft systems methodology” (SSM) has been used for over thirty years in the analysis of complex situations where diverse viewpoints are held across a diverse group of stakeholders and the “problem” is undefined (Checkland 2000). SSM recognises flux as the only state of being and cautions against the solidification of elements of that flux as “situations, problems or issues.” Rather it suggests that social reality is continuously, socially constructed and that individuals can hold and express differing perceptions of that ever-changing social reality at any one time. The focus on ambivalent individuality and subjectivity within a flux or “liquid” paradigm of modernity (Bauman 2000) invites questions surrounding the role of materials in lived experience that are key to theories of New Materialism and Posthumanism. Concurrent explorations and integrations of technological, scientific, design and craft processes within textile and material-led systems avoid ontological permanence and move away from any preconceived understandings of textiles, fabric or cloth to examples of radical “textilic” practice (Igoe 2021). Diverse and interdisciplinary practices that are characterised by non-linear dynamics and “simplexity” (Kluger 2007) expose our relationally networked and liquid state and transcend the boundaries of material outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-141
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Textile Design Research and Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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