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"Methodological Implications of Complex Systems Approaches to Sociality": Some Further Remarks

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Abstract

In a paper published in JASSS (Vol. 5, no. 1) Chris Goldspink discusses the methodological implications of complex systems approaches to the modeling of social systems. Like others before him Goldspink advocates the use of bottom-up computer simulations (BUCSs) for examining social phenomena. It is argued therein that computer simulation offers a partial solution to the methodological crisis apparently observed in the social sciences. Though I agree with many of Goldspink’s remarks I personally feel that BUCS has been oversold as a tool for modeling and managing organizational complexity at the expense of other equally legitimate (from a complex systems stance) approaches. I have no doubt that BUCS offer a new and exciting lens on organizational complexity, but we must explicitly recognize that this nonlinear approach suffers from some of the same limitations as its linear predecessors. The aim of this short note is to discuss some of the limitations in more detail and suggest that complexity thinking offers a simulation paradigm that is broader than the new reductionism of BUCS. This alternative interpretation of complexity thinking forces us to reconsider the relationship between our models and ‘reality’ as well as the role of simulation in decision making.

Suggested Citation

  • Kurt Richardson, 2002. ""Methodological Implications of Complex Systems Approaches to Sociality": Some Further Remarks," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 5(2), pages 1-6.
  • Handle: RePEc:jas:jasssj:2002-6-1
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    File URL: http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/5/2/6.html
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    1. Andreas Flache & Rainer Hegselmann, 1998. "Understanding Complex Social Dynamics: a Plea for Cellular Automata Based Modelling," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 1(3), pages 1-1.
    2. Cohen, Joel E. & Hajnal, John & Newman, Charles M., 1986. "Approaching consensus can be delicate when positions harden," Stochastic Processes and their Applications, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 315-322, July.
    3. Gérard Weisbuch & Guillaume Deffuant & Frederic Amblard & Jean Pierre Nadal, 2001. "Interacting Agents and Continuous Opinions Dynamics," Working Papers 01-11-072, Santa Fe Institute.
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