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Complexity and Method in Social Sciences

Complexity and Method in Social Science

This is an ESRC Seminar Series (2014-2017) co-organised by Dr Emma Uprichard (PI, Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, Warwick, UK), Professor David Byrne (Durham University, UK) and Professor Brian Castellani (Kent State University, USA).


Organisers and Participants



Overall aims

  • To create an interdisciplinary network of scholars working on the methodological challenges of applying complexity to social science research problems;
  • To develop a mixed-methods toolkit to more effectively model complex social systems;
  • To improve complex systems methodological pedagogy of social science students by:
    • Developing a set of pedagogical and policy recommendations relating to complexity related research methods;
    • Providing feedback to the Nuffield/ESRC/HEFCE funded Q-Step Centres.

Key methodological questions

  • How do we capitalize on big data and real-time data for complexity social science research?
  • How might we describe and explain patterns of change and continuity through time and space, and, importantly, how to do this whilst also accounting for a dynamic context?
  • Conversely, how do experiences and processes of time, temporality, space and place impact on the possibilities of change and continuity?
  • How might we explore causality in complex social systems for policy planning and intervention?
  • How can we bridge quantitative, qualitative and computational methods to better understand complex social systems empirically (e.g. via government surveys, public and commercial transactional data, neural nets, agent-based models, clustering techniques, network analysis, geographical modeling, visual complexity, case-based modeling, qualitative narratives etc.)?
  • How might we bring together different epistemological approaches to researching complexity in general, and conduct better inter- and multi-disciplinary complexity social science specifically?