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Complexity and the social world.

Medd, Will (2002) Complexity and the social world. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 5 (1). pp. 71-81. ISSN 1364-5579

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This paper is concerned with two related methodological problems. First, presented with a complex social scenario of a meeting between the representatives of different social welfare agencies, how should we make sense of this meeting? Second, in the context of the potential insights that the complexity sciences offer for understanding the social world, how can we translate those models to make sense of complex social dynamics? The example of the meeting, taken from an ethnographic study of collaboration in social welfare, is used to situate debates about the use of complexity science in knowing the social world. Drawing upon the work of Luhmann, I argue that we need to re-think the insights complexity sciences in order to situate the problem of complexity in the social world itself. Doing so locates the problem of knowing the social world in the social world itself, and highlights the necessary role of ignorance both in social life itself, and in knowing the social world.

Item Type: Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Social Research Methodology
Additional Information: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 5 (1), 2002, © Informa Plc
Uncontrolled Keywords: complexity theory ; methodology ; qualitative methods ; ethnography ; Luhmann ; partnership working
Subjects: ?? g1 ??
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 418
Deposited By: Dr Will Medd
Deposited On: 05 Feb 2007
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2018 02:44
Identification Number:

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