Special Issue "Complex Social Systems: Theory And Practice"

A special issue of Systems (ISSN 2079-8954).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Josue Antonio Nescolarde Selva

Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Alicante, Alicante 03690, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: belief systems; biomathematics; chaotic systems; complex biological systems; complex systems; complexity theory; ecosystems; fuzzy systems; ideological complex systems; information theory; networks for complex systems; social cybernetics; socio-economic systems; social systems
Guest Editor
Dr. Hugh Gash

Institute of Education, Dublin City University. Dublin. Ireland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: prejudice reduction; applied developmental psychology; constructivism
Guest Editor
Dr. Josep-Lluis Usó-Doménech

Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Alicante, Spain
Website | E-Mail
Interests: belief systems; biomathematics; complex biological systems; complex systems; complexity theory; ecosystems; epistemology; ideological complex systems; information theory; logics; philosophy of mathematics; socio-economic systems; social systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

All societies are differentiated. Social differentiation is a concomitant of institutional differentiation which consists of the specialization and routinization of activities in general. In relatively undifferentiated societies, a single social structure is used to organize all collective activities that need to be organized: e.g., work, religion, war, art, and education . It implies a peculiar and monolithic Generalised Collective Conscience (GCC). This social structure usually assigns positions to individuals based on age, sex, and descendance, creating a restricted Particularised Collective Conscience (PCC) and an Individual Conscience (IC) that is confused generally with PCC. The kinship system is the basis for organizing any activity. Highly differentiated societies perpetuate certain bodies of knowledge and belief through such generalized structures as families, public schools, mass media, internet, etc. But in addition they also use highly specialized structures, such as professional associations, universities, theological schools, laboratories, etc. As activities develop in specialties, special purpose structures arise to organize them. The extent of institutional differentiation is of primary importance as a social condition affecting the culture carried by a society.
This Special Issue aims to update the use of existing social systems approaches and relevant tools in managing social complexity in any area of interest.

The Special Issue seeks contributions that focus on, but are not limited to, the following:

•    Ideological systems: Political, economic and religious systems.
•    Systems dynamics modeling and simulation of social systems.
•    Sociology theories.
•    Utopian and dystopian systems.
•    Historic perspectives.
•    Culture, ethics, values in sociological systems.

We welcome papers that present approaches, frameworks, models, and case studies using systems approaches or tools in any area of application.

Dr. Josué Antonio Nescolarde-Selva
Dr. Josep-Lluis Usó-Doménech
Dr. Hugh Gash
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Systems is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Complex sociological problems
  • Culture
  • Cybernetics
  • Ethics
  • History
  • Ideology
  • Management systems
  • Simulation
  • Systems approaches/sociological theories
  • Systems dynamics
  • Utopia

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Communities of Practice as Systems: The Case of TEALEAF
Received: 5 March 2017 / Revised: 13 April 2017 / Accepted: 11 May 2017 / Published: 21 May 2017
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Abstract
This work provides an update to the Erasmus Plus TEALEAF project. The outcomes of a week-long EU-funded/Irish Government-recognized teacher course in July 2016 is described within the context of a qualitative small-scale study investigating teachers’ progress in the course. The explicit aim of [...] Read more.
This work provides an update to the Erasmus Plus TEALEAF project. The outcomes of a week-long EU-funded/Irish Government-recognized teacher course in July 2016 is described within the context of a qualitative small-scale study investigating teachers’ progress in the course. The explicit aim of the teacher course was to equip a diverse group of teachers with the initial tools to work to produce simple digital apps for learning about biodiversity in their respective domains. A community of practice seeks to establish a new concept of the pre-existing generalised collective conscience through triangulated conversation between the generalised and particularised collective and individual consciences; in particular, to revise the generalised collective conscience that teachers can program apps for learning about biodiversity. A number of features of teaching and learning were selected in general and their relationship to constructivism delineated. The teachers were prompted for their responses to each day of the course through a self-evaluation tool and the responses were ranked according to the rubric. The data was analyzed using multidimensional scaling—ASCAL procedure—in SPSS 23TM and within the repertory grid domain according to the RepSocio tool in Rep 5TM. The plots show a gradual development throughout the week in terms of specific features becoming ‘stronger’ or exerting more influence towards the middle of the course and fragmenting after that. Analyses were able to show which participants correlated most closely with the hypothetical ideal within the community of practice. Concerning this community of practice, the interrelationships within the community are determined using a social mapping exercise moving from the individual consciences to a particularised collective conscience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Complex Social Systems: Theory And Practice)
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Open AccessCommunication On the Complexity of the Universal Order in Vico’s Establishing Principles
Received: 30 December 2016 / Revised: 9 March 2017 / Accepted: 12 March 2017 / Published: 3 April 2017
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Abstract
In his seminal work The Principles of a New Science of the Common Nature of Nations (Principii di una scienza nuova d’intorno alla natura delle nazioni, published in 1725 then again in 1730 and posthumously in 1744), Giambattista Vico (Born in 1668) wrote [...] Read more.
In his seminal work The Principles of a New Science of the Common Nature of Nations (Principii di una scienza nuova d’intorno alla natura delle nazioni, published in 1725 then again in 1730 and posthumously in 1744), Giambattista Vico (Born in 1668) wrote to qualify the scientific to include the humanities and their complexity beyond the popular Cartesian circumscription within the laws of physics—divinely instituted and set in motion—in describing its phenomena. The work is, for one, a manifesto of the essential complexity inherent in universal order, and against a reduction of scholarship to the pure sciences, in which elimination is key. Vico proposed a structure that afforded the organic integration of the humanities within the laws of physics as parts of “a tree of knowledge” whose trunk branched out into a progression toward certainty, drawn out of the most fluid humanities at the roots, in an order of premise and conclusion. The tree metaphor is the juncture of early moments of disparity and interdependence between complexity, on the one hand, and certainty on the other. Starting at the unknown, the immeasurably immense ultimate uncertainty, perception is shaped through fear, self-protection and subject to survival instincts. And so, crude metaphysics makes the trunk rooted in “poetic wisdom” with a natural mixture of limited sensuous cognition and unlimited imagination—or one striving beyond the fetters of immediate reality, logic, ethics, economics and politics which are all poetic sciences to Vico—branch out. On the other side of those branches, physics extends into chronology and geography—the most certain—in agreement that the faculties of the human mind, including imagination, may not be outside of physics: the trunk from whence all knowledge cometh, and by the laws of which life is governed. Past validating human uncertainty as a measure of complexity—not lack of knowledge—in scientific inquiry, key concepts in Vico’s The New Science, such as imagination, reason, creativity and science, maintain pressing relevance to examining complexity today, enabling consideration of their relevance between Vico’s time and today, while maintaining that the uncertainty of imagination and the pragmatism of physics are but facets of the equally plausible constitution of a universal order. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Complex Social Systems: Theory And Practice)
Open AccessArticle Structure and Superstructures in Complex Social Systems
Received: 9 December 2016 / Revised: 13 March 2017 / Accepted: 23 March 2017 / Published: 26 March 2017
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Abstract
In classical sociology, there is a sharp separation between the superstructure reflecting cultural ideals and the concrete Structural Base (SB). The authors hypothesize a Doxical Superstructure (DS) in its own space at a higher level, containing concepts such as completeness, necessity and possibility [...] Read more.
In classical sociology, there is a sharp separation between the superstructure reflecting cultural ideals and the concrete Structural Base (SB). The authors hypothesize a Doxical Superstructure (DS) in its own space at a higher level, containing concepts such as completeness, necessity and possibility associated with abstract concepts like beliefs, ethics, knowledge, relations and science. The DS or image (DS-image) is defined as the “explanation” (for the Subject-agent) of the Structural Base. A Mythical Superstructure (MS) is defined as a third superstructure. An analysis is carried out on the Structural Base. Concepts or denotative significances (d-significances) are defined for SB deontic relations. Alethic properties (existence, completeness, possibility and necessity) and deontic properties (permission, obligation and choice) of deontic relations are introduced, defined, and examined in relation to the Ideological Doxical Superstructure (IDS), including Meinong objects (thoughts, feelings and desires). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Complex Social Systems: Theory And Practice)
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Open AccessArticle Mongolia, Modernity, Systems + Solutions: Questing Holistic Design + Planning Strategies for a Brighter Tomorrow
Received: 30 December 2016 / Revised: 13 March 2017 / Accepted: 13 March 2017 / Published: 23 March 2017
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Abstract
Mongolia is a unique nation underpinned by rich history, spectacular landscapes, rich culture and deep spirituality. It is also a country grappling with change, modernization, growth and governance. The author has been extensively engaged, over many years, in research and consulting in this [...] Read more.
Mongolia is a unique nation underpinned by rich history, spectacular landscapes, rich culture and deep spirituality. It is also a country grappling with change, modernization, growth and governance. The author has been extensively engaged, over many years, in research and consulting in this interesting milieu, including architectural design, city planning, informal settlements and poverty reduction. Building from an innovative integrative framework (Sinclair 2009) for design and planning, the present paper explores the challenges of realizing progress in Mongolia through the lens of systems thinking. In particular, the author critically examines parameters that inform and inspire the development of guidelines to aid in more effective reconsideration, reform and redesign of the urban fabric. A key dimension of the research centers on ethnographic methods, with sensitivities focused on the needs, desires and aspirations of the local community. Many efforts to modernize, advance and develop nations are hamstrung through fragmentation, specialization, narrow agendas and an inability to see the broader picture. The current speculative proposition aims to connect the dots—intentionally pursuing interdisciplinary and interconnected ways of seeing, thinking and acting. While not directly providing answers to questions about the next steps on Mongolia’s path, the author builds and delineates ways of knowing that can support such answers and inform such steps. The main goal of the paper is to consider the complicated ethos in more systemic, holistic, overarching and impactful ways. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Complex Social Systems: Theory And Practice)
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Open AccessArticle What Are Ideological Systems?
Received: 1 December 2016 / Revised: 1 February 2017 / Accepted: 23 February 2017 / Published: 25 February 2017
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Abstract
Ideology is a systemic property of cognition central to the transmission and actualization of beliefs. Ideologies take many forms including religious, philosophical, popular and scientific. They play a central role in both personal identity and in the way society holds itself together. Therefore, [...] Read more.
Ideology is a systemic property of cognition central to the transmission and actualization of beliefs. Ideologies take many forms including religious, philosophical, popular and scientific. They play a central role in both personal identity and in the way society holds itself together. Therefore, it is important to understand how to model identities. The article introduces ideologies as a function of cognition that have been described by political scientists and critical theorists. There follows a typology of ideologies that shows their increasing complexity as societies develop. These considerations lead to the identification of key elements and variables in an ideology that can be expressed mathematically together with some of their systemic relations. These variables may be used to estimate the validation of ideologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Complex Social Systems: Theory And Practice)
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Open AccessArticle A Balance Paradigm for Post-Plutocracy: Toward Sustainable Development with Integral Harmony
Received: 30 December 2016 / Revised: 12 February 2017 / Accepted: 13 February 2017 / Published: 22 February 2017
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Abstract
For a sustainable human future, a rapid paradigm shift is a must from the prevailing “Explosion Paradigm” to a more reasonable “Balance Paradigm” by means of constantly enriching the existing diverse society-specific holistic cultures (“Cultures”). This means inviting a new age of balanced [...] Read more.
For a sustainable human future, a rapid paradigm shift is a must from the prevailing “Explosion Paradigm” to a more reasonable “Balance Paradigm” by means of constantly enriching the existing diverse society-specific holistic cultures (“Cultures”). This means inviting a new age of balanced and integrated socio-economic systems worldwide with the help of the most important human common property—diverse Cultures. Generally speaking, each Culture has been deeply interwoven with its social value system, belief system, natural-social environments, and experience-based knowledge and wisdom. Such Cultures all over the world, however, have been mostly devastated by the modern ideology of lopsided market fundamentalism (“Market”) that has favored the plutocracy-driven power structure (“Big Market”) of the world. In order to seek a sustainable future by achieving the paradigm shift, the devastated diverse Cultures need to be restored, invigorated and enriched by long-term worldwide collaborations. For such a purpose, we cannot rely totally on the existing line of modern thoughts and theories of economics and other disciplines. Therefore, the present article introduces an alternative theoretical framework of balanced socio-economic development, which is argued for on the assumption of respectively and differently enriched diverse Cultures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Complex Social Systems: Theory And Practice)
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Open AccessArticle Complexity Triggered by Economic Globalisation— The Issue of On-Line Betting-Related Match Fixing
Received: 15 December 2016 / Accepted: 6 February 2017 / Published: 13 February 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (660 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Complexity in mainstream economics consists in high intermediary consumption of mathematics. A new approach to complexity economics dwells upon path-dependent global systems; their emergence and evolving organisation. The focus here is on the complexity of the real economic world due to globalisation. On-line [...] Read more.
Complexity in mainstream economics consists in high intermediary consumption of mathematics. A new approach to complexity economics dwells upon path-dependent global systems; their emergence and evolving organisation. The focus here is on the complexity of the real economic world due to globalisation. On-line betting related match-fixing is a case in point about which the article presents non-exhaustive empirical evidence and shows how it is analysed with the standard model of the economics of crime. There is no room for complexity in such an individualistic approach to corrupt behaviour applied to bet-related fixes. A more complex model is sketched based on interactions between a global (though underground) market for fixes and the actual partly legal, partly illegal global sport betting market. These interactions exhibit how complex is the issue of combating betting-related match fixing. Reviewing those major policies envisaged for containing the latter—prohibition; sanctions; regulation; privatisation (betting rights)—the article opts for a global ‘Sportbettobin’ tax on sport betting gains; in the same vein as the famous Tobin tax on international capital transfers. The novelty in this approach is a variable (increasing) rate applied to increasing tranches of taxation (gains) which should dry up the worst cases of on-line bettingrelated match fixing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Complex Social Systems: Theory And Practice)
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