We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Chaos Theory in the Social Sciences

Foundations and Applications

L. Douglas Kiel and Euel Elliott, Editors

Publication Year: 1996

Chaos Theory in the Social Sciences: Foundations and Applications offers the most recent thinking in applying the chaos paradigm to the social sciences. The book explores the methodological techniques--and their difficulties--for determining whether chaotic processes may in fact exist in a particular instance and examines implications of chaos theory when applied specifically to political science, economics, and sociology. The contributors to the book show that no single technique can be used to diagnose and describe all chaotic processes and identify the strengths and limitations of a variety of approaches. The essays in this volume consider the application of chaos theory to such diverse phenomena as public opinion, the behavior of states in the international arena, the development of rational economic expectations, and long waves. Contributors include Brian J. L. Berry, Thad Brown, Kenyon B. DeGreene, Dimitrios Dendrinos, Euel Elliott, David Harvey, L. Ted Jaditz, Douglas Kiel, Heja Kim, Michael McBurnett, Michael Reed, Diana Richards, J. Barkley Rosser, Jr., and Alvin M. Saperstein. L. Douglas Kiel and Euel W. Elliott are both Associate Professors of Government, Politics, and Political Economy, University of Texas at Dallas.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (50.5 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 1-15

The social sciences, historically, have emulated both the intellectual and methodological paradigms of the natural sciences. From the behavioral revolution, to applications such as cybernetics, to a predominant reliance on the certainty and stability of the Newtonian paradigm, the social sciences have followed the lead of the natural sciences. This trend continues as new discoveries...

Part 1: Chaotic Dynamics in Social Science Data

read more

1. Exploring Nonlinear Dynamics with a Spreadsheet: A Graphical View of Chaos for Beginners

pdf iconDownload PDF (632.3 KB)
pp. 19-29

The mathematical foundation of chaos theory and the unique vernacular of this new science can deter some researchers from exploring the dynamics of nonlinear systems. Terms such as periodicity, sensitive dependence on initial conditions, and attractors are not the usual vernacular of the social sciences. However, the modem microcomputer and electronic spreadsheet software...

read more

2. Probing the Underlying Structure in Dynamical Systems: An Introduction to Spectral Analysis

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 31-51

This chapter examines one method of investigating the underlying dynamics of time-series data. It introduces the reader to spectral analysis, a tool for evaluating the frequency properties of a time series. This is distinguished from the analysis of the properties of time series in the time domain, which is...

read more

3. Measuring Chaos Using the Lyapunov Exponent

pdf iconDownload PDF (872.8 KB)
pp. 53-66

At some point in time, all scientific things must be measured and calibrated--even chaos. The Lyapunov characteristic exponent, A, is the clearest measure to prove the existence and to quantify chaos in a dynamical system or time series. Chaos exists when A is positive, and this indicates the system under investigation is sensitive to initial conditions. A dictionary would suggest...

read more

4. The Prediction Test for Nonlinear Determinism

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 67-88

One of the more interesting problems of modem empirical economics is what one might call the forecasting paradox: Standard linear statistical models of economic phenomena invariably fit very well in sample. However, results for out-of-sample prediction are typically much worse than one might expect given the in-sample fit. This problem has been known in the profession since...

read more

5. From Individuals to Groups: The Aggregation of Votes and Chaotic Dynamics

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.8 MB)
pp. 89-116

The aggregation of individual preferences into a group choice is one of the most significant questions in political science. How citizens combine and weigh their interests and desires toward a societal agreement is the foundation of democratic theory. However, the individual-group connection is not as straightforward as early democratic theorists assumed. The process of reaching a societal agreement between a group of individuals, each with their own...

Part 2: Chaos Theory and Political Science

read more

6. Nonlinear Politics

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 119-137

That chaos may be a part of elementary politics is evidenced by highly exploratory work in the fields of electoral behavior, game theory, axiomatic choice theory, and conflict analysis. The social dynamical processes that may induce chaos, methods of investigating large-scale collective behavior, and some implications for political science research are outlined in this essay....

read more

7. The Prediction of Unpredictability: Applications of the New Paradigm of Chaos in Dynamical Systems to the Old Problem of the Stability of a System of Hostile Nations

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.6 MB)
pp. 139-163

The social sciences have long tried to emulate the procedures and results of the physical sciences--the laws of economic detenninism of Marx come immediately to mind. To a large extent, the science of international relations has not been successful in this emulation; its capability of predicting the outcome of international competition (war or peace?) has been very limited. Perhaps this is because too many variables seem to be required, intuitively, to...

read more

8. Complexity in the Evolution of Public Opinion

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.9 MB)
pp. 165-196

Be that as it may, we often study such phenomena as though they were static. Cross-sectional analyses continue to dominate disciplinary research, for two reasons. First, we typically choose to analyze cross-sectional data. Exemplary are the many analyses of year-specific surveys of the electorate during presidential and off-year elections (see Huckfeldt and Sprague 1987; Cohen et al. 1991; and examples based on specific National Election Studies),...

Part 3: Chaos Theory and Economics

read more

9. Chaos Theory and Rationality in Economics

pdf iconDownload PDF (873.7 KB)
pp. 199-213

A central assumption in economic theory is that of rational behavior by economic agents, although this has been widely criticized by many noneconomists. Since the work of Muth (1961), this assumption has increasingly taken the form of rational expectations, that agents over time on average accurately predict the future. This somewhat simplistic formulation of the assumption...

read more

10. Long Waves 1790–1990: Intermittency, Chaos, and Control

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.0 MB)
pp. 215-236

There are two contending views of economic dynamics. Insights into their validity may be provided via concepts of catastrophe and chaos. The dominant paradigm is that optimizing behavior produces an economy that is inherently equilibrating, tending toward steady-state growth in the absence of random shocks. Such shocks, in the Slutsky-Frisch-Tinbergen view, are transfonned into cyclical oscillations through the filtering properties of the economy's...

read more

11. Cities as Spatial Chaotic Attractors

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.9 MB)
pp. 237-269

Developments in the mathematical theory of dynamical stability and bifurcation theory have considerably influenced developments throughout the social sciences. S.ources have been either the field of structural stability emanating from catastrophe theory (see Thorn 1975; Zeeman 1977), mathematical chaos (see Lorenz 1963; May 1976; Guckenheimer and Holmes 1983; Thompson...

Part 4: Implications for Social Systems Management and Social Science

read more

12. Field-Theoretic Framework for the Interpretation of the Evolution, Instability, Structural Change, and Management of Complex Systems

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.6 MB)
pp. 273-294

Policy making and decision making and other aspects of the management of complex systems are becoming increasingly difficult. Management philosophies, approaches, and techniques were developed during simpler times. However, complex systems are dynamic rather than static, evolve or are driven into domains of instability, and emerge into new structures. There is...

read more

13. Social Science as the Study of Complex Systems

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.2 MB)
pp. 295-323

Despite three decades of development in the physical sciences, the social sciences are only now coming to grips with deterministic chaos and its world-view. Several explanations have been given for this hesitance. Positivists, appealing to Comtean doctrine, conceptualize the sciences as constituting a developmental hierarchy. Mathematics, physics, and astronomy, envisioned...


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.4 MB)
pp. 325-345


pdf iconDownload PDF (168.2 KB)
pp. 347-349

E-ISBN-13: 9780472022526
E-ISBN-10: 0472022520
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472084722
Print-ISBN-10: 0472084720

Page Count: 360
Illustrations: 100 tables, figures
Publication Year: 1996