Social Emergence: Societies As Complex Systems

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9780521606370: Social Emergence: Societies As Complex Systems

Sociologists have long believed that psychology alone can't explain what happens when people work together in complex modern societies. In contrast, most psychologists and economists believe that we can explain much about social life with an accurate theory of how individuals make choices and act on them. R. Keith Sawyer argues, however, that societies are complex dynamical systems, and that the best way to resolve these debates is by developing the concept of emergence, paying attention to multiple levels of analysis--individuals, interactions, and groups--with a dynamic focus on how social group phenomena emerge from communication processes among individual members.

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Book Description:

Can we understand important social issues by studying individual personalities and decisions? Or are societies somehow more than the people in them? Social Emergence takes a new approach to these longstanding questions. Sawyer argues that societies are complex dynamical systems, and that the best way to resolve the debates is by developing the concept of emergence, focusing on multiple levels of analysis--individuals, interactions, and groups - and with a dynamic focus on how social group phenomena emerge from communication processes among individual members.

About the Author:

R. Keith Sawyer is Associate Professor of Education at Washington University. He is the author or editor of six previous books, including Group Creativity and Improvised Dialogues. He has also published a wide range of scholarly journal articles on contemporary issues in sociological theory and on computational modeling of societies.

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