Eight Levels of (Human/Social) Systems:

About the Eight Levels:

In his classic book, Living Systems, Systems Scientist James G. Miller developed the key concept of Eight Levels of (Human/Social) Systems.

These Eight Levels clearly illustrate how every system impacts upon every other system in this hierarchy. These levels demonstrate the hierarchy of ‘systems within systems.’

We really start seeing the characteristics of systems when looking at the Eight Levels of (Human/Social) Systems—for if the definition of a single system is ‘a set of components that work together for the overall objective of the whole’—then that is surely carried through to groups of systems interacting together to ideally achieve the objectives of the larger system in which they all co-exist.

In this way, when we look at any of our human organizations—social, political, commercial—as levels of systems within other systems, we further cement the systems concept. Once we begin thinking in terms of systems connected to systems, it becomes easier to see how problems are connected to other problems—and it forces us to look at solving those problems in a new light.


Using the Eight Levels:

To be an effective Systems Thinker and apply sustainable systemic solutions, you first need to know what system you are discussing. This is especially true since theses Eight Levels each exist interdependently within higher levels of systems. We all need to recognize and use each of the Eight Levels of (Human Social) Systems in which we exist to fully solve today’s seemingly chronic problems.

Let’s Make a Difference in Tomorrow’s World – Today!


GAST & the Eight Levels:

The Eight Levels of (Human/Social) Systems are an integral part of the Global Association for Systems Thinking®. The levels are the way in which our Community of Excellence User Forums are organized. They are also one way resources in the Global Resource Portal are listed. Additionally you can find How-To Tools (applications of Systems Thinking) for each of the Eight Levels of (Human/Social) Systems.