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Seminar 5: Epistemology and methods and complexity

Seminar 5. Epistmology of Method and Complexity


Date: Friday 8 May 2015

Thank you to José Raimundo for the hand-drawn sketches.

In this fifth seminar, we explore one of the issues that has already started to emerge across all the seminar so far: epistemology. In particular, this seminar aims to unpack some of the ways in which different kinds of epistemological positions that tend to be implicit in complexity discussions in general. One of the features that has become clear to the seminar series organisers series is the ways in which each seminar as so far tended to 'divide' the seminar participants, with particular members preferring certain seminars over others in a way that tends to also map on to their respective disciplinary backgrounds. In spite of the different approaches to complexity that are so obviously present across the disciplines, one of the aims of this seminar series has been to prioritise the social and to explore what a complex social systems methodological approach might entail. With this in mind, we return to some fundamental concepts in social science as way of exploring how they may or may not be turned on their head from a complex systems perspective.

In doing so, this seminar focuses on two aspects of the social that we consider to be fundamental to a complex systems approach, namely agency and evaluation. Often these concepts tend to sit separately to one another and they also tend not to be key priorities within complexity approaches in general either. Here, therefore, we bring them together as a way of rethinking some of the key ways we might begin to formulate what an empirical complex systems approach look like, if it acknowledged the importance of agency and evaluation together. This seminar will follow a slightly different format to previous seminars in that we have chosen to only have a small number of key speakers and a larger audience. This will, though, still allow us plenty of time for some good discussion. Full AGENDA here.


PROF. MARGARET ARCHER (Sociology, University of Warwick University, Centre for Social Ontology) Title:Change, Complexity and Consiousness

DR EDMUND CHATTOE-BROWN (Sociology, University of Leicester)
Title: Has Agent-Based Modelling Already Solved the Problems of Complexity? An Analysis Based on Exemplar Models

DR ANA TEIXEIRA DE MELO (Center for Social Studies, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Coimbra) Title: Exploring, Participating and Constructing Complexity: How a Complex Complexity Science looks like to a curious family psychologist

PROF. MALCOLM WILLIAMS (School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University) Title: Necessity, Contingency and Social Reality