What if I think that everything is already unruly complexity? What do I do?
First, I need to define for whoever is reading what I mean by that term. Unruly complexity refers to situations that
1. consist of heterogeneous components
2. are built up over time and subject to ongoing restructuring
3. are embedded in wider dynamics
Equivalently, for such situations:
1. definite boundaries are lacking
2. what goes on “outside” continually restructures what is “inside”
3. diverse processes come together to produce change
Definitions are best accompanied by an illustration. This is provided the case of soil erosion in a mountainous agricultural region in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Back to the question. What if everything is already unruly complexity?
My first Answer is there’s a Qualitative difference in analysis of causes and in implications drawn from such an analysis.
This answer is well illustrated by the two islands scenario regarding population growth.
The two islands scenario also illustrates an expository or conceptual theme, namely, the use of simple themes or scenarios that are readily digested but undermine simple, system-like formulations (such as population growth leads to environmental degradation). Instead, these themes or scenarios open up issues, pointing to greater complexity and to further work needed in particular cases (such as the case of soil erosion in a mountainous agricultural region in Oaxaca, Mexico). These “opening-up themes” call for or invite work based on dynamics that develop over time among particular, unequal agents whose actions implicate or span a range of social domains.
Back to the question: What if everything is already unruly complexity? and the first Answer that there’s a Qualitative difference in analysis of causes and in implications drawn from such an analysis. This leads to a new Question: Qualitative difference in analysis of causes and implications… for whom? See next post.