The Sociology of Complex Social Systems: Applications of Moderns Systems Theory to Practical Problems
A key feature of the theory is its consideration of social systems as open to, and interacting with, their social and physical environments. Through interaction with their environment—as well as through internal processes—such systems acquire new properties and are transformed, resulting in evolutionary developments. The theory incorporates in its framework human agents as creative (destructive) transforming forces. They may choose to deviate, oppose, or act in innovative and even perverse ways relative to the norms, values, and social structures of the particular social systems within which they act and interact.
The theoretical approach has entailed several key applications, each of which will be briefly illustrated/exemplified in the paper: (1) the conceptualization of human agents as creative (also destructive), and drivers of innovation and creative development within particular social system contexts; (2) the conceptualization of collective consciousness in terms of self-representation and self-reflectivity and applied in analyses of the gaps and dilemmas of international law regarding gender equality; (3) a theory identifying the universal features of groups and organizations and their dynamics; (4) a theory of paradigm shifts in policy regimes and regulative institutions (selected case studies of major EU policy shifts); (5) transition and transformation of social systems: selected historical cases as well as the ongoing “sustainability revolution.”