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International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS2006)

Complex dynamics in a transactional model of societal transitions

Jos Timmermans
Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam

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     Last modified: May 30, 2006

Transitions are structural innovations of societal systems in reaction to wicked problems threatening sustainable development. The Transactional Model of Transitions is based on Colemanís linear system of action and intents to model transitions as resulting from a punctuated increase in exchange of control. The model implemented has the characteristics of a dissipative system. A variation and selection algorithm favouring the selection of relatively dependent actors into the social system forces the system away from equilibrium. Exchange of control, according to Coleman the driving force behind social action, accounts for dissipation and brings the social system back to equilibrium.
We expect the Transactional Model of Transitions to show complex dynamics. Power law behaviour and punctuated equilibrium are of special interest, as these are closely connected to hypotheses on social dynamics developed in the literature on societal transitions and system innovations.
We present simulation results of the model implementing various alternatives for the variation and selection and exchange algorithms, interprete their meaning in the light of societal transitions and system innovations and discuss their conformity with actual social processes. Our results show that the Transactional Model of Transitions indeed shows complex dynamics. We did not yet find conclusive evidence of evolution to the edge of chaos, self-organized criticality and/or power law behaviour.

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