Social dynamics

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Social dynamics is the study of the ability of a society to react to inner and outer changes and deal with its regulation mechanisms. Social dynamics is a mathematically inspired approach to analyse societies, building upon systems theory and sociology. Sociologists, ethnologists, economists, social psychologists, criminologists, anthropologists and biologists are utilizing it in their studies of systems and behavior.

Contents

Overview

Society and culture are things to which we are emotionally bound and for which we have no immediate alternative. Sociology and psychology deal with ratings, with subjectivity, they are supposed to provide objective findings to serve subjective needs. (Of course different people have more or less different feelings, goals and opinions, this must be discussed, as cultures found upon least common denominators.) Cut short, sociology sits on the fence, it is a mix of human and nature sciences, philosophy and politics. As this has stalled the progress of sociology, some people meant to bring new life into it by applying mathematics and systemics to sociology: On a certain level, life and societies are nothing more than systems dealing respectively with genes and culture (for life-like behavior in the latter, see meme). Therefore we can try to describe social systems by signals which become modified by transmission functions.

The analogy with biological and social systems can be taken too far and systems and approaches that work in natural sciences often do not account for the complexity in the social world. Edward O. Wilson has referred to the social sciences as 'hypercomplex'. While memetics is one of a history of approaches in Darwinising culture, there is a fundamental issues, and some would argue crudity in the way that social phenomena are ill-fitted into this view of heredity and transmission. On any measure this approach can only lead to a drifting from Darwinism and a more neo-Lamarckian framing of culture. As to what that might mean for memetics and culture as a neo-Darwinian understanding, the jury is clearly still out.

So while there are connections with the natural sciences and important areas of collaboration there has to be a respect for the social sciences as a range of epistemology on its/her own. If physics is used we can see approaches like mathematical sociology, socio-cybernetics and sociophysics emerging in recent years and again these offer further insights into the workings of culture. These approaches offer something far more dynamic and quite different from the potentially sluggish terms of heredity and transmission. In 'actor network theory' social science already has an understanding that is quite conducive to physics' ideas of fields and potentially quantum theory.

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