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Brian Castellani and Lasse Gerrits kick off their IAS fellowship with an online discussion session in which they present their project the ‘Atlas of Social Complexity’.

Detail Summary
Date 22 September 2020
Time 16:00 -16:45
Lasse Gerrits

Brian Castellani and Lasse Gerrits are working on the ‘Atlas of Social Complexity’. In this project, they take stock of where the analysis of social complexity stands, and outline future challenges for the field. The study of social complexity has developed over the last twenty-five years into a rather advanced field of study, reaching into just about every area of social inquiry – from sociology and economics to the public policy and urban planning – to become one of the largest areas of research in the complexity sciences. It has also become, more recently, entangled with the dramatic rise in big data and digital social science; and it sits at the nexus of some of the biggest global problems we face, from climate change to the instabilities of the global economy. Despite these advances, the field is by no means a mature area of study, facing twelve challenges, all of which need addressing if it is to truly become an established field of research. Examples of those challenges include a methodological privileging of the micro over the macro; a rather noncritical embrace of the latest developments in computational modelling and big data and machine learning; the canonization of the field’s core concepts such as self-organisation and emergence; and the absence of a developed theory of power relations or inequality. What is needed, then, is a proper mapping of where the field has been, what is presently taking place, and what yet needs to be done, and with it a more rigorous and critical cartography of where we are in 2020.

The purpose of this event is two-fold. First, it is to introduce the preliminary work Brian Castellani and Lasse Gerrits have done on the Atlas, including the field’s twelve key challenges and what they tentatively see as the cross-cutting areas of work being done to address or get free from them. Second, it is to set the framework for potentially interviewing colleagues around the work they are doing to likewise push past the current challenges of the field.