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Sociocomplexity. Group of Complexity, Communication and Sociolinguistics. 

Universitat de Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.



 ComplexicsSeminars for transdisciplinarity

Llengua i complexitat, LSC, número 11 (2013)     Complèxica: Cervell, societat i llengua       Complexity Perspectives on
des de la transdisciplinarietat               Language, Communication 
                                                and Society                        
http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783642328169

Introduction

The “language-communication-society” triangle defies traditional scientific approaches. Rather, it is a complex phenomenon that calls for an integration of complexic, transdisciplinary perspectives, if we are to make any progress in understanding how it works. The highly diverse agents in play are not merely cognitive and/or cultural, but also emotional and behavioural in their specificity. Indeed, the effort may require building a theoretical and methodological body of knowledge that can effectively convey the characteristic properties of phenomena in human terms.

 

Our Group

Our understanding of complexity is different – but not opposed – to the one that is more commonly found in texts written by people working in physics or computer science, for example. The goal of our diverse group is to extend the knowledge of these other more ‘human’ or socially oriented perspectives on complexity, taking account of the language and communication singularities of human agents in society.


Perspective

Over the past thirty years, the use of the term complexity has grown exponentially in parallel across several scientific disciplines. As with other innovative labels, however, this term has not always been understood in the same way by its many users. Nor has it been applied in the same way to different aspects of reality. Our intention, however, is not to suggest that the term complexity, in its various scientific uses, does not share points in common which contribute toward building a coherent approach. Many different authors, despite their differing fields and countries, share similar concerns and questions, which have led them to formulate new concepts and test new theoretical approaches and methodologies in their pursuit of knowledge.

Behind most uses of the term complexity, we find a strong interest in lines of thought that aim to deepen our understanding of phenomena that involve several agents held in networks of mutual inter-retro-actions within given contexts.

Through their coevolution, these agents spark the emergence of new realities, with properties and characteristics that are different from their original components. It is hard to gain an understanding of these types of complex phenomena if we use only the conceptual strategies and classic methodologies of the reductionist approach. Dynamic networks of processes interweaving their component parts and their emergent totalities force us to change concepts, images and strategies, producing a shift that poses a weighty challenge for contemporary thought. As a result, complexity  has gained increasing acceptance as the most fitting “umbrella” label for the convergence of a large number of contributions, some of which extend earlier advances made in cybernetics, systems theory, traditional ecological approaches, and figurational sociology, while others emerging in recent decades include CAS (complex adaptive systems), network theory, computational modelling, cellular automata, and Edgar Morin’s work on human complexity.

(From 'Introduction', in: Massip-Bonet, Àngels & Albert Bastardas-Boada (eds.), Complexity perspectives in language, communication, and society. Berlin: Springer, 2012)  

We could briefly contrast traditional scientific thinking and the complexity paradigm as follows:

 Traditional perspective
 Complexic perspective
 
Conceptual rei
fication
 There is no science without an observer (centrality of brain/mind)
 Territory Maps (we see by means of concepts and words)
 Scientific truth  Provisional theories
 Elements   Elements-and-contexts, interweaving, interdependences, networks
 Objects Events and processes
 Steady state Dynamic flux, change and evolution
 Classical logic Fuzzy logic
 Linear causality Circular and retroactive causality
 Either/or dichotomies And/both integration and complementarity
 Planned creation Self-organisation and emergence
 Unidimensionality  Inter-influential multidimensionality
 Explicate order(things are unfolded and each thing lies only in its own particular region of space) Implicate order(everything is folded into everything; a hologram, where the parts contain information on the entire object)
 Fragmentation of disciplines Inter-and transdisciplinarity
 Structure, code Meaningful and emotional interaction

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