Ever more complex, uncertain and urging? : ›Wicked problems‹ from the perspective of anti-naturalist conceptualizations of time

Universität Heidelberg
Barbehön, Marlon

In recent years, ›wicked problems‹ have gained widespread attention both in academic and political discourses. The term is typically used to describe constellations in which long-term strategies are needed in order to cope with complex cause-and-effect-relationships, time is pressing due to self-enforcing dynamics, and well-established techniques of knowledge acquisition seem no longer valid. Therefore, time is obviously of particular importance for the identification of wicked problems. However, in the literature these temporal features are treated as naturally given, which obscures the social practices through which wickedness as a ›complex‹, ›uncertain‹ and ›urging‹ socio-political condition is constituted. To problematize this perspective, this article makes use of phenomenological sociology and systems theory to show how time is not objectively given but emerges from individual sense-making processes and communicative operations respectively. With these anti-naturalist perspectives on time it becomes possible to critically analyze the political implications that accompany the discourse on wicked problems.

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