National Identity

Last weekend, I got back from climbing Mt Kinabalu, hence the absence. This time, I continue to view prominent issues via the same systems lens.

This time, I’m taking on this big-hairy topic called, “perception of national identity”. One way to read this is start with the “sense of national identity”. It is determined by family, perceptions of history, education, social life, national service, and relative attainment and quality of life. Perception of history is in turn, affected by education, which affects social life, economic activities, and relative attainment. Attainment is affected by economic activities and cost of living.

Yes, this map of relations is TOO simple. What about art, culture, ways-of-life? To subsume it under “quality of life” is a cop-out, I admit, but it’s what I’ve decided for now.

See – that wasn’t that hard! Just kidding.

This is a hypothetical concept/relations map. You can make your own maps too, and your map will probably be very different from mine.



Some caveats: this is obviously, one possible map amongst many. Please don’t take this to be definitive. Another point of personal discontent is that this is a concept map more so than a systems map. Mostly because the relations are nearly all one-way, which would make it amenable for regression analysis, if you were to do one. Feedbacks would be apparent over time, in thinking about the “stock of national identity” of the entire population. That might sound absurd, but that’s what systems thinking deals with – stocks and flows.

Obvious question: How do you quantify the stuff inside these maps? Great question – no obvious answer. Likert scales are an obvious choice; another way is to ask, “what difference would it make if something was taken out, or insufficient?” My other response would just be that placing all these things all at once gives you a starting point in thinking about what you want to change.

Watch out for more maps to come!


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