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Society is a web of interactions and interrelationships of individuals and their natural and artificial (human-made) worlds. The dynamics of this web and the processes of its self-organisation, evolution, and transformation are at the focus of the study of social complexity. This study is centred in the rich conceptual basis of the non-linear science – the science of turbulence and chaos, emergence and fractals, self-organisation and criticality: the science of complexity.
The word “complexity” originates from the Latin word “complexus” which means “totality”; the science of complexity explores totality of dynamics – forces, energies, substances and forms – permeating the universe and connecting everything that exists in an all-embracing web of dynamic interrelationships and interactions. Different are the scales of manifestation of this web – micro and macro, organic and inorganic, animate and inanimate, natural and simulated, individual and social, plant-like, animal and human. However different the scales of the web, its dynamics at each scale exhibit similar characteristics and regularities. The study of these characteristics and regularities has brought forth a whole new paradigm – the paradigm of complexity – based on the research field of nonlinear dynamics. This field includes also human dynamics: individual and social.
One of the greatest physicist of the 20th century – Heisenberg – once said: “The same regulating forces, that have created nature in all its forms, are responsible for the structure of our psyche and also for our capacity to think” (Heisenberg, 1971). The universe does not select a special kind of dynamics to manifest through humans and another – through the rest of the existential forms. Human dynamics form their level in the wholeness of the self-created, self-propelled and self-sustained universal dynamics. The challenge for the social researchers is to be aware of this wholeness and reveal the ways it manifests through social complexity.