As A Tool Of Social Theory
Our lives are increasingly complicated. Not only do we know deal with so many more things on a daily basis, our world is changing at an ever increasing rate. Information technology has brings us into contact with more people and offers us more choices. Thus our psychological and sociological perspectives need to embrace the complexity of the 21st century. For example it has recently been argued that the increase in depression in the Western world originates in our increased choice. At the centre of such analysis is qualitative research in depth understanding of what people think and the way they perceive their surroundings. From deeper understanding of individual people will ultimately come the knowledge to build more and more accurate social simulations.
A rare and distinctive feature of the centre is the fusion of qualitative and quantitative research. In many organisations, from schools to multinational corporations, three elements characterise their dynamics and evolution, vision, culture and structure. The ability of organisations to learn and adapt to changing circumstances require all three to synergise in harmony with one another. Yet these elements share a fundamental characteristic of complex systems. They have to emerge from the grass roots, or to at least be consonant with grass roots feeling. Qualitative research, unfamiliar to much of complex systems activity, is crucial to understanding grass roots drivers. We are already merging qualitative techniques with quantitative simulation in the spatial information, telecommunications and financial industries.
Complexity is thus an essential way of thinking about social systems. We live in a changing world, a world with many more interactions, a world which yesterday's skills, attitudes and policies can date as rapidly as a desktop computer. Entirely new challenges open up for organisations and society for which complexity is the new paradigm.
© 2007- CRiCS - Centre for Research in Complex Systems
Contact : Kate Parsons