Skittles: The Story of the Tipping Point Metaphor and its Relation to new Realities

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Tipping points are set in complex systems. To make sense of them requires metaphor and narrative. Metaphor is a useful supplement to scientific enquiry, offering a different type of future-orientated knowledge that can provide a fresh perspective for reaction and accommodation. Metaphors allow for new ways of interpreting scientific prediction and construct, as science itself uses metaphors, so aiding the developing present, by redefining past circumstances for possible adaptive futures. Metaphors can liberate but they can also obstruct: they can communicate and they can trample. The key is to combine the freedom of thought with interdisciplinarity and flexibility of analysis. Metaphors also encourage narrative options and contingencies, thereby enabling a range of interpretative pathways for bifurcated futures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAddressing Tipping Points for a Precarious Future
EditorsTimothy O'Riordan, Timothy Lenton
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780197265536
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2013

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