Complex Society in Radical Middle (December 2012), Bojan Radej*, Mojca Golobič**, Mirna Macur***. University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty, Department for Landscape Planning, 240 pp.
Society is complex because it is composed of irreconcilable constituents. As a consequence, every important social issue is evaluated conflictingly as being both horizontally incommensurable (among interest groups) and vertically incommensurable (micro – macro). Social incommensurability (Munda) as a category concerns incompatible but legitimate social claims. When different principles of social primacy are applied, no objective basis exists for rational choice between alternatives (Wacquant). This raises concern for the possibility of holistic evaluation of complex social matters. Because of an aggregation problem (Scriven; Virtanen Uusikylä) our ability to reach wide social consensus on the content and process of social transformation is critically undermined. Hence it appears that increased complexity leads to the disintegration of contemporary societies.
We are of the opposite opinion! By definition, holistic evaluation of incommensurable social issue is not achievable in a direct way. An indirect approach is needed – such as in a mesoscopic perspective. Its core theoretical background derives from mathematics (Pythagorean Hipassus) and philosophy of science (Kuhn) because of their elaboration of incommensurability concept, complexity theory with the concept of meso (Prigogine, Wallerstein, Leontief, Dopfer, Easterling, Kok, and Rotmans), and theory of social integration (Giddens, Bourdieu and Wallerstein) in sociology.
The major characteristic of meso evaluation is its capacity for addressing incommensurable oppositions in intersectional way. “Intersectional” means through overlaps between oppositions which take place only in non-essential instances that are only marginally important to the corresponding agents who pursue incommensurable claims. For example, social-economy is an overlap between conventional economic and social policies as two incommensurable components of sustainable welfare.
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Complex society in the meso
The five methodological studies have been accomplished with the aim to illustrate difficulties in holistic evaluation of complex social matters. The main findings: it appears that trend of social disintegration is not a result of increasing social complexity but only of oversimplified approaches (micro or macro) to evaluation of socially complex concerns. For eliminating oversimplification, a meso frame is proposed. In meso frame, social totality does not emerge from commensurable elementary parts piled up together but from partial and incommensurable wholes, which remain separated and as such cannot directly coalesce toward ever higher unity. Instead, these partial wholes sometimes compete and sometimes cooperate for more holistic characterization of social good and for more integral strategies for achieving it. Hence, social totality can be emphasised only indirectly, preliminarily, in an open way and educationally.
– “Efficiency vs. Effectiveness”;
– “Integrate Natural Resource Management and Climate Change”;
– “There is no objective basis for rational choice between public alternatives”;
– “Open Source Everything and Free Money”;
– “Six predictions about the future of evaluation”;
– “Who is afraid of Social Innovation?”;
– “Summation and Synthesis is not the same”;
– “Classical concepts of integration are useless”;
– “Creative destruction of the present imperfect”;
– “Through Exclusion to the Community”;
– “Alternative social welfare measures justify alternative welfare doctrines”.
Phi Beta Iota: There is a truly fascinating change going on in the global conversation about complexity and evolution. Tiny nodes within the West are beginning to realize how ignorant the West has been in its approach to science as deconstruction alone; meanwhile both East and West are learning how mistaken they have been in dismissing indigenous native wisdom accumulated over centuries; and finally, there are very promising developments across quantum everything, open source everything, and the intersection of science , the humanities, religion, and consciousness.