Introduction: The History and Theory of Complexity

Michael Wolf-Branigin

in Using Complexity Theory for Research and Program Evaluation

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199829460
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199315895 | DOI:

Series: Pocket Guides to Social Work Research Methods

Introduction: The History and Theory of Complexity

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Complexity has achieved this paradigm status in both physical and social science disciplines, and forms a theoretical underpinning in fields including communications and linguistics. Complexity has not yet reached a similar status in social work. The study of complexity arose because a group of scientists believed that complex systems across many natural, societal, and technological domains shared similarities. These similarities include being adaptive, self-correcting, or emergent. This introduction traces the beginning of this emerging field of inquiry and introduces related concepts often found in complex systems that are relevant to social work research and evaluation.

Keywords: complexity; complex systems; complex adaptive systems; game theory; network science; systems theory

Chapter.  10373 words.  Illustrated.

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