Modelling: representing the world in order to understand how it works

David Byrne

in Applying social science

Published by Policy Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9781847424518
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301486 | DOI:
Modelling: representing the world in order to understand how it works

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This chapter addresses the process of modelling — the creation of versions of reality by whatever means — physical, mathematical, as computer simulations — in order to work out what might happen in the future if various actions and/or contextual developments are applied to reality in the same way as they are applied to the model. It identifies the limitations of linear and equilibric models in relation to social processes; reviews the implications of modeling non-linear developments in open complex systems; discusses the potential and limitations of simulations as predictive models in relation to the impact of social interventions; argues for the development of general multi-method narratives of the future as the basis of modeling in applied social science.

Keywords: modeling; versions of reality; linear and equilibric models; social processes; open complex systems; social interventions; applied social science

Chapter.  6424 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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