Course

Political Complexity by Complexity Labs

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Teacher Complexity Labs

Systems Innovation is an open platform for applying systems and complexity theory towards innovating new solutions to complex social, economic, technical and environmental challenges.

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Course content

0h04m

Political Complexity Course Intro

Introduction to our Political Complexity course, the course can be taken as at this link: https://goo.gl/xnv9Qr
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0h31m

Political Complexity Overview

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In this video we take an over view of political complexity, we start off with a general discussion surrounding political science and its historical development. We then go on to identify the current political context and the need for an alternative paradigm in political analysis. Finally, we talk about the different aspects of this new approach and how complexity theory can help us to better understand governance and political organization in an age of connectivity, looking at the ideas of interdependence, networks, and adaptation.

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0h26m

Sociocultural Systems

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Sociocultural systems are as set of component parts fitting loosely together to form a coherent whole. The term is used to give a holistic approach to looking at both the non-material cultural constructs - such as faith, value systems, epistemology - and the social structures - such as political organizations, civil organizations, educational systems etc - and how the two interact. The term helps to communicate the inextricable linkage between the two and how sociopolitical structures and dynamics can only be fully contextualized in relation to their cultural system.

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0h24m

Sociopolitical Systems

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The term sociopolitical system refers to systems composed of both social elements and political elements and the interaction between them. In asking the question where does governance come from or on what do we base governance on? The answer is sociocultural institutions. Political systems sit on top of and are dependent upon their underlying social system - in that political institutions emerge from and are determinant of the actions and relations between agents in society.

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0h27m

Political Systems

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A political system is a set of interrelated social institutions that collectively perform the function of public governance within a society. Politics is the process through which a group of people make collective decisions that affect all and implement them; the process of doing this we would call public governance. A political system is then the set of institutions required to conduct governance within a society.

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0h25m

Types of Political Systems

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Governments make collective decisions that bind members of their community into agreements, in so doing they exercise power over people. A primary factor to consider in the analysis of any political system is then to ask on what is the exercise of this power over people based. A government's power is in its capacity to define people's choices for them; people have to in some way give over their individual choices and agency to the collective organization. We can then ask why do the individuals do this? The answer to this question will go a long way to defining the type of political system we are dealing with.

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0h28m

Political Self-Organization

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Self-organization is defined as a process by which systems that are in general composed of many parts spontaneously acquire their structure or function without specific interference from an agent that is not part of the system. Political self-organization then refers to the formation of political patterns through the local interactions of the members only; this can be seen in the formation of public opinion, political movements, and political revolutions. In a cultural context, self-organizing processes can be seen in the formation of customs and the development of beliefs. In a socioeconomic context self-organization can be seen in the growth, competition, extinction of companies, national economies and the stock market.

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0h16m

Open Political Systems

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The term open political system refers to political systems that have the characteristics of open systems in general; namely that they have a high degree of exchange with their environment and are normalized to respond to changes through feedback and adaptive capacity. Likewise, they are open in the sense of being able to include the distributed perspectives and interests of a wide section of the population into the decision-making process. Open political systems are dynamic in nature in recognizing the need to be responsive to changes within the external environment and to adapt to those changes. The open–closed political spectrum has become in recent years identified as a replacement to the traditional left-right spectrum to define the most important features to political systems in the age of globalization and increased interconnectivity.

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0h20m

Emergent Political Processes

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Emergent political processes refer to the rise of political structures and behaviors without central planning and by the action of many individual participants in a distributed fashion. The phrase draws upon emergence theory for the idea that the simple actions of individuals can collectively create complex and unpredictable results. The most manifest example of emergent political processes can be seen in the formation and development of political movements and protests.

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0h23m

Political Micro-Macro Dynamic

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The term micro-macro dynamic, refers to the dynamic interplay between the micro-level to a system and the macro-level, each of which may have different emergent structures, inherent rules, and processes but have to interact and coexist within the same overall system, thus creating a core tension between them. The political micro-macro dynamic describes the same phenomenon within sociopolitical systems, where it is also referred to as the agent-structure problem; an explicit recognition of the tension within all sociopolitical systems between the individual's freedom to act and initiate change, versus the overall political and social institutions that are designed to maintain order and structure which typically requires the imposition of constraints on the individual.

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0h17m

Nonlinear Political Science

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Nonlinear political science is the application of nonlinear models of analysis to interpreting political systems and their phenomena. Since the advent of chaos theory around 1970, nonlinear science has been growing and increasingly finding application in new domains of science. However, it was not until more recently that a growing number of scholars understood that the political world is increasingly characterized by nonlinearity and thus, amenable to nonlinear dynamical techniques and models.

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0h15m

Political Field Theory

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The concept of a field has long since been used within modern physics to interpret how a pervasive force within an environment can be the cause of change in any given object. During the late 20th century, the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu applied such an idea to social science. He used field theory to examine how individuals construct and are shaped by social fields. Political field theory is an extension of Bourdieu's work in that it looks at the application of the more general concept within science of a field to interpreting sociopolitical systems.

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0h19m

Nonequilibrium Political Systems

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The interaction between elements within a nonlinear system over time yield nonequilibrium dynamics. As interdependencies arise the system goes from linear behavior to nonlinear behavior. Correspondingly, synergies and emergence give rise to nonequilibrium outcomes on the macro-level and also nonequilibrium processes of change over time, driven by feedback dynamics. As we explore in this videos, Political processes do not escape such patterns.

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0h22m

Political Regime Shift

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A system's topology can be defined in terms of its state space. The attractors within this state space characterize a set of behaviors for the system which is called the system's regime. In turn, the regime is maintained by mutually reinforcing processes of feedback. A regime shift is a qualitative, abrupt and major change in the topology and function of a system. This video explores how such ideas can be applied to nonlinear political phenomena.

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0h23m

Socio-political Networks

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Sociopolitical networks are the networks of connections between members within a society that influence and shape collective decision-making and collective action. Sociopolitical networks may involve many overlapping heterogeneous and distributed networks throughout society, that influence collective decision making and the distribution of power. Such networks might include; social media and communications networks, economic and financial networks or cultural and ideological networks.

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0h24m

Political Network Structure

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Political network structure refers to the overall structure of connections within a sociopolitical organization and how the topology of that network effects individual members or organizations operating within it. Network theory can be seen to be particularly relevant to the analysis of political systems and power in that power is typically understood as a relational phenomena, but likewise it is a structural phenomenon, actors have power based not only on their inherent qualities but more often based upon their location within a network and their degree of connectivity.

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0h21m

Political Network Dynamics

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Network dynamics is the study of how networks change over time, as new connections and structures are formed or removed. With the study of political network dynamics, we are asking the question of how do sociopolitical networks form, mature and eventually disintegrate. In this analysis, we are interested in such questions as, how things spread across networks as a function of the structure of the network, and questions of network resilience and robustness to outside influence.

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0h22m

Sociopolitical Dynamics

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Sociopolitical dynamics refers to the major components, relations, and patterns within a political system that define its overall workings and process of development. A political system is the set of institutional structures through which members make collective decisions; political dynamics refers to the pattern of interrelationships between those elements that define how the system evolves over time.

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0h18m

Political Systems Resilience

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The term social resilience refers to “the ability of groups or communities to cope with external stresses and disturbances as a result of social, political and environmental change.” Political resilience then refers to the capacity of political organizations to adapt to, and evolve responses to, internal and external events, such as large inflows of migration, war, financial crisis, rapid changes in demographics, environmental change etc.

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