The study of social systems is integral to the fields of sociology and public policy. Social systems have been studied for as long as sociology has existed.
Forrester argued that unsuccessful public policies aim to treat the symptoms rather than the causes of social issues and that they also generally focus on efforts rather than on results. This occurs because there is either an incomplete understanding or a misunderstanding of the causes of an issue on the part of the policymakers, which often leads to ineffective or detrimental policies which aggravate the issues they were implemented to correct or cause other issues to arise. Another problem Forrester notes is that some policies which may work in the long run may aggravate an issue in the short run. A successful policy according to Forrester must target the correct leverage points, in this case the aspect of the social problem which, if modified, will produce a sizeable enough effect to correct the problem.