Sociologists have long believed that psychology alone can't explain what happens when people work together in complex modern societies. In contrast, most psychologists and economists believe that we can explain much about social life with an accurate theory of how individuals make choices and act on them. R. Keith Sawyer argues, however, that societies are complex dynamical systems, and that the best way to resolve these debates is by developing the concept of emergence, paying attention to multiple levels of analysis--individuals, interactions, and groups--with a dynamic focus on how social group phenomena emerge from communication processes among individual members.
"Following many other contemporary social scientists K. Sawyer presents a theoretical discussion of a recurrent and important question in the social sciences: How should we explain the relations between individuals and social structures?" -François Dépelteau, Canadian Journal of Sociology Online
R. Keith Sawyer is Associate Professor of Education at Washington University. He is the author or editor of six previous books, including Group Creativity and Improvised Dialogues. He has also published a wide range of scholarly journal articles on contemporary issues in sociological theory and on computational modeling of societies.
Acknowledgements; 1. Emergence, complexity, and social science; 2. Emergence, complexity, and the third wave of social systems theory; 3. The history of emergence; 4. Emergence in psychology; 5. Emergence in sociology; 6. Durkheim's theory of social emergence; 7. Emergence and elisionism; 8. Simulating social emergence with artificial societies; 9. Communication and improvisation; 10. The Emergence paradigm.