Complexity of Social Systems in the Era of Information Overload

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 15 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Czeslaw MESJASZ, Cracow University of Economics, Poland
Increasing amount of information in modern society has brought about numerous unpredicted and unpredictable consequences. One of them is changing meaning of complexity applied in description and analysis of phenomena at all levels of societal hierarchy. A survey of definitions of complexity of social systems allows to identify two approaches. First, “hard” complexity associated with mathematical modelling of non-linear phenomena, dynamical systems, etc. Second, “soft” complexity, which is either based upon analogies and metaphors deriving from the “hard” complexity, or which is associated with qualitative indigenous ideas of complexity of social systems, e.g. Luhmann. It may be concluded that complexity reflects subjective perception of the world and of the observer herself/himself – “complexity is in the eyes of the beholder” and social systems can be treated as self-reflexive “complexities of complexities”.

The interpretation of complexity of social systems as a consequence of insufficient capability of information processing by an observer obtains a new weight in the time of exponentially increasing amount of information stored and transmitted in modern society.

The aim of the paper is to provide at least partial answers to the following questions:

  1. What types of barriers of perception and understanding of social systems by individual observers result from increased amount of information?
  2. What are the consequences of information asymmetry in social systems resulting from the increasing amount of information?
  3. What are the new phenomena associated with reflexivity and self-reflexivity of social systems which are resulting from rapidly increasing amount of information?