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Complexity Theory: Societies as Complex Systems

  • Eoin Flaherty
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter offers an alternative approach to systems drawing on complexity, emergence, and critical realism. It suggests that social-ecological systems are inherently dynamic, metabolic entities engaged in a continual exchange of matter and energy with their environments to forestall dissipation. The concepts of autopoiesis and dissipative structures are introduced as foundational concepts for thinking about social organisation and social order. It shows how a complex view of systems can serve as a guide for mixed-method investigation, how systems are inherently multidimensional, how we can think about change as an inherent property of systems, and how we can approach their measurement in a manner which does not obscure this complexity.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eoin Flaherty
    • 1
  1. 1.SociologyUniversity College DublinDublinUK

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