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Complexities and futures?

Author(s): John Urry

Journal: Revista CIDOB d'Afers Internacionals
ISSN 1133-6595

Issue: 95;
Start page: 11;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Complexity systems | futures | mobility | crisis

Physical and social worlds are full of change, paradox and contradiction. There are no simple, unchangingstable states or states to which there is equilibrium-establishing movement. The “normal” state isnot one of balance and equilibrium. Any system is “complex”. Policies never straightforwardly restoreequilibrium. The equilibrium models dominant in most economic system analyses, especially generalequilibrium models, can be critiqued since they ignore the huge array of positive feedbacks. Thus, systems should be viewed as dynamic and processual, demonstrating the power of the second law of thermodynamics, in which physical and social systems are seen as moving towards entropy. Systems can be broadly viewed as unpredictable, open rather than closed, with energy and matter flowing in and out. Systems are characterised by a lack of proportionality or “non-linearity” between the apparent “causes” and “effects” of events and processes. Various implications for thinking futures are examined in the light of this complex systems thinking.
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