A systems approach to health, well-being and the environment: air pollution and Shanghai's elderly
Weedmark-Kish, Kaitlin Marie
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Using Soft Systems Methodologies (SSM) to transcend cultural boundaries in an open format, this paper examines the changes experienced by Shanghai's elderly in the context of health, well-being and the environment. Shanghai has undergone rapid urban transformation in the past three decades resulting in significant increases in cases of respiratory illness relating to environmental air pollution. Complex and non-linear issues have provoked a re-evaluation of traditional approaches to understanding real world problem situations. Systems thinking provides an epistemological foundation for methodologies that are holistic. A particular branch of systems thinking, SSM, highly values participant knowledge and provides techniques for examining this knowledge. However, the findings in this paper indicate that the participants believe health is not decreasing. Instead, a strong social hierarchy emerged demonstrating that the government heavily influences participant's opinions of the environment and their health. Additionally, overall increases in well-being are deemed as suitable tradeoffs for environmental degradation.