chapter  4
14 Pages

Chaos and Transformation in the Social Sciences

The commotion that chaos theory has created in the natural sciences has spilled over into the social sciences. An important bridge between ideas developed in the natural sciences and those of social scientists is reflected in Erich Jantsch’s creative work, The Self-Organizing Universe? Other bridge building has been done in the areas of methodology,3 organizational the­ ory,4 career choice,5 and social structures.6 However, a direct translation of chaos theory from the natural sciences to the social sciences without first developing an action-oriented social theory may be difficult.7 Furthermore, the qualitative difference between chaos study in the natural sciences and in the social sciences is a normative one. Studying the patterns of rapidly shifting chemical reactions or wildly fluctuating numbers can be done with no consideration of whether the patterns are good or bad or whether newly organized stable states are healthier than the previous ones. However, when the boundary into the study of living systems is crossed, answers to these ethical questions predominate.8