Figure 1: Problem entries: conceptual processes (see Fig. 2 for relationships)
Encyclopedia of World Problems
As indicated above, two main groups of cross-references are provided between problems. These are the conventional broader/narrower group and a group of "functional" cross-references. The process of indicating the initial relationships between problems is in effect an extension, if not an integral part, of the naming process. The hierarchical relationships, even if only first approximations, position the problem with respect to others and confirm the distinction from them. Particular attention was therefore given to the relationships between problems.
1. Administration vs. conceptual preoccupations
A fundamental distinction is made between the administrative concern with controlling the flow of documents relating to problems and the conceptual concern with naming such problems (which includes differentiating them from other problems, or merging ill-formed problems with others) and interrelating them.
2. Arbitrary problem numbering
1. Misnamed problems
The following procedures for identifying problems and locating material were used in parallel, although some of them have been used to a greater extent in building up the database either for the 1976 or for the 1986 edition of the Encyclopedia:
1. Requests to international organizations
This section provides commentaries related to the methods used for World Problems, a section of the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential
- 3.1 Identification procedure
- 3.2 Problem naming
- 3.3 Document control and problem description
- 3.4 Method: inter-problem relationships
- 3.5 Method: conceptual processes summarized
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No effort has been made to determine the relative importance of problems for which entries have been included. In this preliminary exercise, effort has been limited to locating problem descriptions and relationships between problems, which would then permit further attention to be given to the question of the relative importance of the problems.
1. Varying importance attached to the same problem
The following guidelines for problem exclusion have been used. As guidelines, exceptions are made whenever this appears appropriate. In particular, excluded classes of problems may be signalled by a single general entry, with, or without description.
1. General problems
1. Tentative positive definitions
(a) Any condition believed to threaten the balanced physical and psycho-social development of the individual in society, whether the threat is directly to his personal well-being, to the values which he upholds, or to features of his environment on which he is dependent.
(b) Any condition believed to cause or constitute social regression or degradation.
(c) Any condition before which society is currently believed to be in some way helpless, because resources cannot be brought to bear upon the problem.
World problems may be readily defined for particular purposes, but such definitions do not exhaust the complex significance of problems. There is a need to continue exploring how such problems should be thought about.
1. Nebulous characteristic of problems