The Atlas of Social Complexity: Mapping Complexity’s Adjacent Possible (Workshop at Nelson Mandela University)


I would like to thank Andrea Hurst and Anton Botha and Harsheila Riga for the opportunity to run a workshop on complexity at Nelson Mandela University. The workshop is based on a forthcoming book in 2024 – The Atlas of Social Complexity (Edward Elgar Publishing) -- that Lasse Gerrits and I are in the final stages of writing.


Here is the Workshop Abstract


Although the complexity sciences have done much to advance the social sciences, over the last decade the field has run into some hard situations – thirteen to be exact. Some are self-imposed, others come from how 21st century science is conducted. Examples include ignoring the wider social sciences; privileging computational modelling over qualitative research; and being tone-deaf about the real world.


These situations presently prevent the study of social complexity from becoming the disruptive, transdisciplinary field it originally sought to be in the 1990s when the complexity turn in the social sciences took place.


Fortunately, a small but growing global network of scholars are charting new territory. They are part of a fresh turn in complexity, the social science turn, which fosters a transdisciplinary, social complexity imagination that, in one way or another, addresses the field’s thirteen situations to create new areas of disruptive and highly innovative social inquiry. The Atlas of social complexity charts this new territory, seeking to map its present future.


Organised around five major themes – (1) Cognition, emotion and consciousness, (2) Dynamics of human psychology, (3) Living in social systems, (4) Advancing a new methods agenda, and (5) The unfinished space – the Atlas functions as a tour guide, surveying over thirty leading-edge research areas (some still under construction) that readers can variously combine and develop.


The Atlas is a practical guide for those seeking new ideas and new avenues of study to pursue, all in the hope of fostering the transdisciplinary social complexity imagination needed to address some of the biggest global challenges we, as a world community, presently face.


The purpose of this interactive Workshop is to introduce the Atlas to foster a discussion on the future of the field and for participants to explore what a future map might look like for their work.



·      CLICK HERE is a link to the Main PowerPoint

·      CLICK HERE for the Complexity Sciences Map


·      CLICK HERE for the Methods PowerPoint.

·      CLICK HERE to explore COMPLEX-IT and its software, tutorials, etc.

·      CLICK HERE for a published article on COMPLEX-IT 

·      CLICK HERE for Big Data Mining and Complexity

·      CLICK HERE for the Sage Handbook of Case-Based Methods 





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