1932

Abstract

I discuss the concept of complexity and the burgeoning field of complex systems and their relevance to sociology. I begin by comparing and contrasting various definitions of complexity and then describe the attributes of systems capable of producing complexity: diversity, networked interactions, interdependent behavior, and adaptation. Next, I survey the contributions of complexity sciences with the most resonance with sociology. I organize those contributions into four categories: dynamics, aggregation, distributions, and functional properties of structure and diversity. On the basis of that survey, I conclude that incorporating complexity science into sociology requires the introduction of new models and methodologies as well as a more expansive approach to empirical research, and that the benefits of a deeper engagement with complexity will be substantial.

[Erratum, Closure]

An erratum has been published for this article:
What Sociologists Should Know About Complexity
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2015-08-14
2024-06-18
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