Emergent patterns in nature and society

Social regime shifts?

The idea keeps going back and forth. Analytically I can understand them, but the idea becomes weak when communicating to broader audience, and even ridiculous when thinking on the usefulness. In any case, social scientist do not like natural ones to mess up with their subjects; they try to take care of other’s territory. But, to be honest, reality does not have such “ideologic landscapes”, perfect boxes where we fit our theories. Besides, I’m not a scientist, I’m a student which give me the right to make mistakes and mess up thinks a little bit 🙂

Nature recently published a Harvard University initiative to line up the biggest challenges of social science.  The top ten crucial questions or research priorities are:

1. How can we induce people to look after their health?

2. How do societies create effective and resilient institutions, such as governments?

3. How can humanity increase its collective wisdom?

4. How do we reduce the ‘skill gap’ between black and white people in America?

5. How can we aggregate information possessed by individuals to make the best decisions?

6. How can we understand the human capacity to create and articulate knowledge?

7. Why do so many female workers still earn less than male workers?

8. How and why does the ‘social’ become ‘biological’?

9. How can we be robust against ‘black swans’ — rare events that have extreme consequences?

10. Why do social processes, in particular civil violence, either persist over time or suddenly change?

Questions number 1, 2, 9 and 10 has to be with resilience, hysteresis, and abrupt change. How do manage coral reefs to favor a species (say hard corals) with a series of traits that when aggregated at the collective – landscape level allows ecological complexity to emerge; has the same principles of how to favor human beings that express more often the trait “healthy lifestyle” to make society as collective more desirable.

The study of highly resilience systems (for good or bad) like institutions, social traits, fads, ideologies, trade structure, market instability are fertile fields to explore why they change, if so, is it abruptly, predictable, avoidable?

I’ll bring in the next post a real case… coming soon!

One response

  1. Pingback: Egypt’s crisis « Critical Transitions

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