Systems Change as “Response-ability”


  • Karen O'Brien University of Oslo


agency, political agency, agential realism, participatory realism, quantum social change


“You Matter More Than You Think: Quantum Social Change For A Thriving World” is a new book by Prof. Karen O’Brien, which presents a radically different approach to shifting the cultures and systems that perpetuate complex global problems like climate change. This excerpt from the book explores how our agency and individual and collective capacity to engage with systems change is influenced by our intentions, assumptions, and values. While classical agency views people as separate yet interacting with others and with nature, quantum social science recognizes our inherent oneness. It focuses on our continuous “intra-actions” within one entangled system. Quantum social change draws attention to a quality of agency that contributes to sustainable systems, particularly the importance of actions based on values that apply to the whole, such as equity, dignity, and compassion. Attention to the quality of individual and collective agency is thus critical for sustainably transforming systems.

Author Biography

Karen O'Brien, University of Oslo

Karen O’Brien is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo, Norway. She is also co-founder of cCHANGE, an organization that supports public engagement with transformations to sustainability.




How to Cite

O’Brien, K. (2022). Systems Change as “Response-ability”. Social Innovations Journal, 15(5). Retrieved from



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