Dynamical Sociology

Interdisciplinary approach the rising and diffusion of social innovations

Instructor: Nikos Fokas

The lecture aims at advancing the interdisciplinary approach in the study of the social change. It includes the discussion of research results regarding generally the theory of social change, particularly rising and diffusion of social innovations, media dynamics, social simulations, and dynamics of social networks.

1. Introductory lecture

First we deal with the rising of innovations. As initial point we accept that at the common micro-sociological level of the self and social we find the source of permanent social innovations. We intend to deal mainly with the conditions of the rising of the so-called macro-innovations. At the moment there is no general theory, or accepted methodology in this field, and the main goal of this lecture is to present some theoretical results concerning this field.

2-4. lecture

Our hypothesis is that from very different scientific field – such as history, history of science, psychology, evolutionary biology, and chaos theory – we may extract a general scheme about the conditions which make possible the rising of macro-innovations. That is why the material of my lecture consists of the collected works of historians Jeno Szucs, Istvan Hajnal, Francois Furet, Fernand Braudel, philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, evolutionary biologists John Maynard Smith, Eors Szathmary, Arthur Koestler as historian of sciences and psychologist, economist Ferenc Janossy, and physician Tamas Tel.

The applied method was the treatment and connection of this literature from the particular point of view. The main result of my lecture is that through a number of examples make convincing, and through theoretical consideration based the existence of a general scheme in the conditions of the rising of the so-called macro-innovations. In order to characterize this scheme I propose at first stage as a metaphor the pair of the terms instability and constraint.

As theoretical antecedents I can mention the Schumpeterian model of creative destruction, which connect my lecture to the contemporary problem of economic crises, although the presented scheme is much more general since include very different examples such as the rising of the Western model of civilization, the prokaryote cells, or a new scientific invention.

5. lecture

Owing to the spectacular currency of information and communication technologies, the diffusion of innovations has become one of the most exciting research topics in the social sciences in the past decade. This study gives an account of the most basic types of growth functions, and then inspects the broad applications of this diffusion of technological innovations. The second half of the study surveys the endeavors which seek to apply the use of growth functions to the broadest possible areas of social change via the long waves of economic development and logistic substitution processes.

6. lecture

We demonstrate that during an evolutionary process the formation of instable state as a general rule is closely related to the pulling out. This gives a special meaning to the notion of Bibo’s dead end of development, Kuhn’s scientific revolution and brings us back to the initial meaning of revolutio. As known in system theory the notion of instability has precise meaning, and chaos has been defined as permanent instability, so I will connect my results to the results of chaos theory.


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