The Dialectic of Bottom-Up and Top-Down-Emergence in Social Systems

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In  this  paper  we  will  present  a  theoretical  explanation of  the  relationship between  so-called individual  emergence and  the emergence  of  social  systems. We want to  take as  our  point  of departure  the assumption  that  from the  perspective  of  hierarchical  systems  theory  self-organization on  the  level of social systems   includes a bottom-up process as well as a  top-down process.  The  bottom-up process  refers  to  what in  sociology  is  called  agency,  the  top-down process refers to what is called structure. We will show that it is convenient to suggest that these processes  be  linked  in  a  dialectical manner.  In  this  respect  we  will  discuss  problems  of determinism and  indeterminism. This  is  the background against which we will try  to clarify  the notion of  individual  emergence.  Our rather  general  considerations  will  be  illustrated by how ideology, that is consciousness in a collective as well as an individual sense, is conceived of by a number  of  theories  and how  it  should be conceived of  when  aspects  of  self-organization  are included. We will conclude with a statement that makes clear why consciousness is a property of  individuals  that  emerges  only when  individuals  participate  in  society and why  society emerges only when individuals are endowed with consciousness.

About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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