Systems Science Friday Noon Seminar Series



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Complexity theory can assist our understanding of social systems and social phenomena. This paper illustrates this assertion by linking Talcott Parsons' model of societal structure to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Parsons' model is used to organize ideas about the underlying causes of the recession that currently afflicts the US. While being too abstract to depict the immediate factors that precipitated this crisis, the model is employed to articulate the argument that vulnerability to this type of event results from flaws in societal structure. This implies that such crises can be avoided only if, in Parsons' terms, structural change occurs in the relations between polity, economy, community, and culture. The Occupy movement has called attention to the need for such fundamental change.

Biographical Information

Martin Zwick has been a core Systems Science faculty member since 1976. His main interests are information theoretic modeling, theoretical biology, and systems theory and philosophy. Scientifically, his focus is on applying systems theory and methodology to the natural and social sciences, especially to biomedical data analysis, the evolution of cooperation, and sustainability. Philosophically, his focus is on how systems ideas relate to classical and contemporary philosophy, how they offer a bridge between science and religion, and how they can help us understand and address societal problems.


Complexity (Philosophy) -- Social aspects, Complexity (Philosophy) -- Political aspects, Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) -- Criticism and interpretation, Recessions -- Social aspects, Systems theory


Economics | Politics and Social Change

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Complexity Theory and Political Change: Talcott Parsons Occupies Wall Street