Complexity Theory and Democratic Politics

Adrian Little

in Democratic Piety

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780748633654
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652709 | DOI:
Complexity Theory and Democratic Politics

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This chapter points to the way in which the idea of complexity has had a substantial impact in fields such as public policy and organisational theory, whilst noting that it has rarely been applied to the politics of conflict and its relationship with democracy. It suggests that such an approach is integral to developing a critical theory of democratic politics. Borrowing from the natural sciences, complexity theory suggests that social and political phenomena cannot be understood through strict linear models of scientific explanation. Instead, it should be recognised that there is a multiplicity of factors that contribute to the emergence of political issues, issues which cannot be simply reduced to their most basic components. Furthermore, it is at the intersection of a multiplicity of phenomena that specific social issues emerge.

Keywords: organisational theory; public policy; complexity theory; democratic politics; natural sciences

Chapter.  10344 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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