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Journal Articles Safety Science Year : 2013

New models for new times. An anti-dualist move


This paper describes a 'déjà vu' experience from the first decade of the 21st century. It shows that, 20 to 30 years apart, one can single out from history two waves of major accidents across safety-critical systems. This new series of major accidents of the 21st century challenges the field of safety. Considering the situation, the paper first argues that models that have been prevalent or the most popular in the field need to be looked at critically and questions whether they still remain appropriate to sensitise the current situation and the trends in safety research. Secondly, based on a list of eight attributes (including the ability to provide appealing graphical representations), three popular models are selected, then analysed in terms of their strengths and weaknesses: Reason's Swiss Cheese Model, Rasmussen's migration model and socio-technical view, and Weick's (and colleagues) collective mindfulness. A fourth approach case, resilience engineering, is also reviewed as a more recent and collective endeavour. Finally, the paper argues that current models and their associated graphical representations supporting safety management practices should not only incorporate advances in managerial, social and political sciences but also in epistemological and philosophical areas in order to reflect the body of knowledge available in the field of safety today more effectively. A set of two graphical representations are then offered as alternatives, promoting anti-dualist metaphors (e.g. constructivism, complexity, networks), and their implications explored.

Dates and versions

ineris-00963484 , version 1 (21-03-2014)



Jean-Christophe Le Coze. New models for new times. An anti-dualist move. Safety Science, 2013, 59, pp.200-218. ⟨10.1016/j.ssci.2013.05.010⟩. ⟨ineris-00963484⟩


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