IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/phsmap/v314y2002i1p1-14.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The physical modelling of society: a historical perspective

Author

Listed:
  • Ball, Philip

Abstract

By seeking to uncover the rules of collective human activities, today's statistical physicists are aiming to return to their roots. Statistics originated in the study of social numbers in the 17th century, and the discovery of statistical invariants in data on births and deaths, crimes and marriages led some scientists and philosophers to conclude that society was governed by immutable “natural” laws beyond the reach of governments, of which the Gaussian “error curve” became regarded as the leitmotif. While statistics flourished as a mathematical tool of all the sciences in the 19th century, it provoked passionate responses from philosophers, novelists and social commentators. Social statistics also guided Maxwell and Boltzmann towards the utilization of probability distributions in the development of the kinetic theory of gases, the foundation of statistical mechanics.

Suggested Citation

  • Ball, Philip, 2002. "The physical modelling of society: a historical perspective," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 314(1), pages 1-14.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:314:y:2002:i:1:p:1-14
    DOI: 10.1016/S0378-4371(02)01042-7
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378437102010427
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only. Journal offers the option of making the article available online on Science direct for a fee of $3,000

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Axelrod, Robert & Bennett, D. Scott, 1993. "A Landscape Theory of Aggregation," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(02), pages 211-233, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Victor M. Yakovenko & J. Barkley Rosser, 2009. "Colloquium: Statistical mechanics of money, wealth, and income," Papers 0905.1518, arXiv.org, revised Dec 2009.
    2. Cristian Valeriu STANCIU & Cristi SPULBAR & Sabin RIZESCU, 2012. "Econophysics - related Remarks in Considering the Necessity of a Distribution Adjustment in the Eurozone Real Economy and Re-modeling its Financial System and Markets. Thermodynamics and Statistical P," Journal of Knowledge Management, Economics and Information Technology, ScientificPapers.org, vol. 2(1), pages 1-9, February.
    3. Rodríguez, Ricardo A. & Herrera, Ada M. & Riera, Rodrigo & Santander, Jacobo & Miranda, Jezahel V. & Quirós, Ángel & Fernández-Rodríguez, María J. & Fernández-Palacios, José M. & Otto, Rüdiger & Escud, 2015. "Distribution of species diversity values: A link between classical and quantum mechanics in ecology," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 313(C), pages 162-180.
    4. Anirban Chakraborti & Dhruv Raina & Kiran Sharma, 2016. "Can an interdisciplinary field contribute to one of the parent disciplines from which it emerged?," Papers 1605.08354, arXiv.org.
    5. Villegas-Febres, J.C. & Olivares-Rivas, W., 2008. "The existence of negative absolute temperatures in Axelrod’s social influence model," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 387(14), pages 3701-3707.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:314:y:2002:i:1:p:1-14. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/physica-a-statistical-mechpplications/ .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.