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The Science of Social Emergence

The Science of Social Emergence
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Author(s): R. Keith Sawyer (Washington University in St. Louis, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 16
Source title: Handbook of Research on Agent-Based Societies: Social and Cultural Interactions
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Goran Trajkovski (Laureate Education Inc., USA) and Samuel G. Collins (Towson University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-236-7.ch001


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Sociology should be the foundational science of social emergence. But to date, sociologists have neglected emergence, and studies of emergence are more common within microeconomics. Moving forward, I argue that a science of social emergence requires two advances beyond current approaches—and that sociology is better positioned than economics to make these advances. First, consistent with existing critiques of microeconomics, I argue that we need a more sophisticated representation of individual agents. Second, I argue that multi-agent models need a more sophisticated representation of interaction processes. The agent communication languages currently used by multi-agent systems researchers are not appropriate for modeling human societies. I conclude by arguing that the scientific study of interaction and emergence will have to migrate out of microeconomics and become a part of sociology. Sociologists, for their part, should embrace multi-agent modeling to pursue a more rigorous study of these traditional sociological issues.

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