Cliodynamics: Physicist argues for reviving evolutionary sociology. Should we?

CLA-ALL Reviews and Opinions

It looks like the historical evolutionism August Comte, Herbert Spencer, and Marx is back in fashion. A colleague at the University of Connecticut, Peter Turchin, has revived the idea of regular, mechanistic processes that characterize social development across space and time and indifferent to culture or political choices. While this might sound like so much 19th-century social philosophizing, this time the proposition is done in the name of a newfangled “science of complexity.” Should social science invest in this new area of research? Please read this article and feel free to comment on the CLA news page of this summary of the research.

Cliodynamics: can we use history to forecast the future?

1 thought on “Cliodynamics: Physicist argues for reviving evolutionary sociology. Should we?

  1. Complexity Science is hardly “newfangled”, as the summary above mentions (please see the numerous complexity science institutes that exist around the world for further resources; the Santa Fe Institute would be a good place to start). It’s been around for decades now. To answer the question posed above whether “social science should invest” in complexity science , I’d also say that it already has–you’ll find research in sociology, history, linguistics, etc. in any journal that focuses on complex adaptive systems. The recent article in the Guardian about Turchin’s research touches on advantages of an approach to complexity, particularly the extreme interdisciplinarity that such projects promote. Again, this is not new.

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