Complexity & Political Dynamics

  • Alex WilliamsEmail author
Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)


How do concepts drawn from complexity theory, such as phase space, metastability, attractors, and symmetry breaking, help us understand the large-scale dynamics of political change? In this chapter, the author surveys a number of such applications: the philosophy of individuation of Simondon, the Marxist sociology of Harvey and Reed, and the process-thinking of Deleuze, Guattari, and DeLanda. Each has a distinct understanding of how complex dynamics can be modelled using ideas from the world of complexity theory, whether thermodynamic or mathematical in nature. This chapter identifies the principle of anti-hylomorphism as vital for an interactive concept of political influence, reliant on manipulation of the pre-existing causal dynamics of social systems towards some desired end. It also draws out the notions of dynamic stability, phase spaces, and attractors, as constituting an effective model of political change at the macro level.


Thermodynamics Phase space Simondon Deleuze DeLanda Hylomorphism 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication StudiesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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