Flock Leadership: Understanding and influencing emergent collective behavior

This study introduces Flock Leadership, a framework for understanding and influencing emergent collective behavior in the context of human organizing. Collective capacities emerge when interactions between individuals enact divergent and convergent ways of perceiving and responding to reality. An agent-based flocking model is employed to represent these interactive dynamics and emergent processes. This study explicates the model’s constructs, translating its algorithms into behavioral norms at the individual level and its outcomes into collective behaviors at the group level. Phenomena-based simulation modeling links two collective states—technical capacity and adaptive capacity—to the specific underlying norm configurations from which they emerge. Flock Leadership provides a unique theoretical framing of emergent collective behavior in organizational settings, a new methodology for analyzing relationships between those emergent behavioral patterns and the interaction norms underlying them, and a useful means for identifying leadership opportunities.

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The Rules of the Flock: Self-Organization and Swarm Structure in Animal Societies

Flocks of birds, schools of fish and swarms of locusts display amazing forms of collective motion, while huge numbers of glow worms can emit light signals with almost unbelievable synchronization. These and many other collective phenomena in animal societies take place according to laws very similar to those governing the collective behavior in the inanimate nature, such as the magnetization of iron and the light radiation of lasers. During recent years, this has led to the study of swarm behavior as a challenging new field of science, in which ideas from the physical world are applied in order to understand the formation and structure of animal swarms. From these studies, it has become clear that such collective behavior of animals emerges in a self-organized way, without any need of overall coordination. In this book, we present different swarm phenomena of the animal world and compare them to their counterparts in physics, in a conceptual and-technical way, addressed to a general readership

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Cultural group selection and human cooperation: a conceptual and empirical review

Cultural group selection has been proposed as an explanation for humans’ highly cooperative nature. This theory argues that social learning mechanisms, combined with rewards and punishment, can stabilize any group behavior, cooperative or not. Equilibrium selection can then operate, resulting in cooperative groups outcompeting less-cooperative groups. This process may explain the widespread cooperation between non-kin observed in humans, which is sometimes claimed to be altruistic. This review explores the assumptions of cultural group selection to assess whether it provides a convincing explanation for human cooperation. Although competition between cultural groups certainly occurs, it is unclear whether this process depends on specific social learning mechanisms (e.g. conformism) or a norm psychology (to indiscriminately punish norm-violators) to stabilize groups at different equilibria as proposed by existing cultural group selection models. Rather than unquestioningly adopt group norms and institutions, individuals and groups appear to evaluate, design and shape them for self-interested reasons (where possible). As individual fitness is frequently tied to group fitness, this often coincides with constructing group-beneficial norms and institutions, especially when groups are in conflict. While culture is a vital component underlying our species’ success, the extent to which current conceptions of cultural group selection reflect human cooperative evolution remains unclear.

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Assembling street vending

Current scholarship on street vending in cities of the global south have mainly focused on street vendors and their politics of resistance against the state’s revanchist and exclusionary policies. This article draws from, and seeks to contribute to, this literature by considering the strategies of, and the shifting associations between, a broader range of agents – in addition to street vendors themselves – and the ways they shape and reshape street vending as a performed and diversely constituted practice. The article examines how the embedded relationships between agents including various state entities, shopkeepers and street vendors, as well as city buildings, infrastructure and policies, have been shaping geographically uneven and spatially differentiated forms, intensity and distribution of street vending in three different locations in Tehran. To make this argument, the article draws on assemblage thinking for framing the processes and trajectories through which urban street vending is being (re)territorialised and de-territorialised. The article demonstrates that moving beyond the dichotomised analysis of power relationships between the state and vendors matters for a better understanding of street vending practices as the local articulations of the fragmented, multi-scaled and multi-sited networks of associations that are stitched into different places in the city and shape diverse socio-material formations of street vending.

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Urban space and the transformation of society

While attempting to consider the role space has in the potential emancipatory transformation of society, radical thinking and action tend to take for granted that space contains, delimits, and thus identifies social life. Spaces of emancipation are mostly envisaged either as freed strongholds to be defended or as enclaves of otherness. It is important, however, to think of space not as a container of society but as a formative element of social practices. Imagining a different future means trying to experience and conceptualize spatialities that may help create different social relations.

People experience space but also think through space and imagine through space. Space not only gives form to the existing social world (experienced and understood as a meaningful life condition), but also to possible social worlds that may inspire action and express collective dreams.

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Posted in Social movements, Society, Urbanization | Tagged , ,

Towards the City of Thresholds

In recent years, urban uprisings, insurrections, riots, and occupations have been an expression of the rage and desperation of our time. So too have they expressed the joy of reclaiming collective life and a different way of composing a common world. At the root of these rebellious moments lies the threshold–the spaces to be crossed from cities of domination and exploitation to a common world of liberation. A city of thresholds is characterized by sudden de-hierarchizations of the territory, the suspension of time, and the playful emergence of hope in a through which dark energies penetrate or awaken, but sometimes hopeful.

Towards the City of Thresholds is a pioneering and ingenious study of these new forms of socialization and uses of space–self-managed and communal–that passionately reveals cities as the sites of manifest social antagonism as well as spatialities of emancipation. Activist and architect Stavros Stavrides describes the powerful reinvention of politics and social relations stirring everywhere in our urban world and analyzes the theoretical underpinnings present in these metropolitan spaces and how they might be bridged to expand the commons.

What is the emancipatory potential of the city in a time of crisis? What thresholds must be crossed for us to realize this potential? To answer these questions, Stavrides draws penetrating insight from the critical philosophies of Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, and Henri Lefebvre–among others–to challenge the despotism of the political and urban crises of our times and reveal the heterotopias immanent within them.

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Posted in Cities, Social innovation, Social movements, Urbanization | Tagged , , ,

Common Space: The City as Commons

Space is both a product and a prerequisite of social relations, it has the potential to block and encourage certain forms of encounter. In Common Space, activist and architect Stavros Stavrides calls for us to conceive of space-as-commons – first, to think beyond the notions of public and private space, and then to understand common space not only as space that is governed by all and remains open to all, but that explicitly expresses, encourages and exemplifies new forms of social relations and of life in common.

Through a fascinating, global examination of social housing, self-built urban settlements, street trade and art, occupied space, liberated space and graffiti, Stavrides carefully shows how spaces for commoning are created. Moreover, he explores the connections between processes of spatial transformation and the formation of politicized subjects to reveal the hidden emancipatory potential of contemporary, metropolitan life.

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The Evolutionary Significance of Affect in Groups: Communication and Group Bonding

Recent theorizing and research have attempted to explicate the functions of moods and emotions within small groups. In this paper, we examine these areas and suggest that affect in groups, as well as specific mechanisms to regulate and maintain certain affective states in groups, have had important roles in promoting group survival over evolutionary history. Specifically, we suggest that affect in groups serves a coordination function, which can take one of two forms. First, affect in groups quickly provides information about the environment and group structure to other group members, thus coordinating group activity via a communication function. Second, shared affect in groups coordinates group activity through fostering group bonds and group loyalty. These two functions of affect in groups are closely related and mutually reinforcing. Current research and directions for future research within an evolutionary perspective are also discussed.

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Social Capital as a Health Resource in Later Life: The Relevance of Context

This book examines the social aspects of healthy aging for older individuals. It features more than 15 papers that explore the relevance of the social environment for health on the micro, meso, and macro level. Overall, the book applies a comprehensive contextual approach that includes discussion of how family and friends, neighborhoods, nations, and welfare regimes influence health. The book first explores the issue on the individual level. It looks at the importance of social capital for health among older people, examines types of social networks and health among older Americans, as well as discusses dynamic social capital and mental health in late life. Next, the book looks at the issue through a neighborhood and societal…

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Perspectives on Community Well-Being

This volume brings together multiple diverse perspectives from around the globe on quality of life and community well-being from a place-based perspective. It provides both conceptual and applied explorations across disciplines, ideas, and perspectives to foster more interest and research in community well-being. Topics include surveying at the community level, child-friendly communities, collective impact, grieving, and happiness. Those working in the areas of public policy, community development, community, and social psychology, as well as planning and development,  will find this volume particularly useful for the array of perspectives, research, and analytical approaches presented.

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