Cliodynamics // is a transdisciplinary area of research integrating cultural evolution, economic history/cliometrics, macrosociology, the mathematical modeling of historical processes during the longue durée, and the construction and analysis of historical databases. Cliodynamics treats history as science. Its practitioners develop theories that explain such dynamical processes as the rise and fall of empires, population booms and busts, spread and disappearance of religions. These theories are translated into mathematical models. Finally, model predictions are tested against data. Thus, building and analyzing massive databases of historical and archaeological information is one of the most important goals of cliodynamics.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Origins
- 3 Mathematical modeling of historical dynamics
- 4 Databases and data sources
- 5 Achievements
- 6 Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution
- 7 University of Hertfordshire Cliodynamics Lab
- 8 Santa Fe Institute
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 External links
The term was originally coined by Peter Turchin in 2003, and can be traced to the work of such figures as Ibn Khaldun, Alexandre Deulofeu, Jack Goldstone, Sergey Kapitsa, Randall Collins, John Komlos, and Andrey Korotayev.
Mathematical modeling of historical dynamics
Many historical processes are dynamic (a dynamic process is one that changes with time). Populations increase and decline, economies expand and contract, states grow and collapse. A very common approach, which has proved its worth in innumerable applications (particularly, but not exclusively, in the natural sciences), consists of taking a holistic phenomenon and splitting it up into separate parts that are assumed to interact with each other. This is the dynamical systems approach, because the whole phenomenon is represented as a system consisting of several elements (or subsystems) that interact and change dynamically; that is, over time. In the dynamical systems approach, one sets out explicitly with mathematical formulae how different subsystems interact with each other. This mathematical description is the model of the system, and one can use a variety of methods to study the dynamics predicted by the model, as well as attempt to test the model by comparing its predictions with observed empirical, dynamic evidence. Cliodynamics is the application of this same approach to the social sciences in general and to the study of historical dynamics in particular.
Cliodynamics practitioners apply mathematical models to explain macrohistorical patterns – things like the rise of empires, social discontent, civil wars, and state collapse. Although the focus is usually on the dynamics of large conglomerates of people, the approach of cliodynamics doesn't preclude the inclusion of human agency in its explanatory theories. Such questions can be explored with agent-based computer simulations.
Databases and data sources
Cliodynamics relies on large bodies of evidence to test competing theories on a wide range of historical processes. This typically involves building massive stores of evidence. The rise of digital history and various research technologies have allowed huge databases to be constructed in recent years. Some prominent databases utilized by cliodynamics practitioners include the following:
- The Seshat: Global History Databank, which systematically collects state-of-the-art accounts of the political and social organization of human groups and how societies have evolved through time into an authoritative databank. Seshat is affiliated also with the Evolution Institute, a non-profit think-tank that "uses evolutionary science to solve real-world problems."
- D-PLACE: the Database of Places, Languages, Culture and Environment, which provides data on over 1,400 human social formations
- The Atlas of Cultural Evolution, an archaeological database created by Peter N. Peregrine
- CHIA: The Collaborative Information for Historical Analysis, a multidisciplinary collaborative endeavor hosted by the University of Pittsburgh with the goal of archiving historical information and linking data as well as academic/research institutions around the globe
- International Institute of Social History, which collects data on the global social history of labour relations, workers, and labour
- Human Relations Area Files eHRAF Archaeology
- Human Relations Area Files eHRAF World Cultures
- Clio-Infra a database of measures of economic performance and other aspects of societal well-being on a global sample of societies from 1800 CE to the present
As of 2016, the main achievements in cliodynamics are:
- The coevolutionary model of social complexity and warfare, based on the theoretical framework of Cultural Multilevel Selection
- The study of revolutions and rebellions
- Structural-demographic theory and secular cycles
- Explanations of the global distribution of languages benefitted from the empirical finding that the geographic area in which a language is spoken is more closely associated with its political complexity than all other variables under analysis.
- mathematical modeling of the long-term ("millennial") trends of the World System dynamics,
- structural-demographic models of the Modern Age revolutions, including the Arab revolutions of 2011.
Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution
Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution is a peer-reviewed web-based (open-access) journal that publishes on the transdisciplinary area of cliodynamics. It integrates research on cultural and social evolution, historical macrosociology, mathematical modeling of long-term social processes, economic history/cliometrics, and facilitates the construction and analysis of comparative and longitudinal databases. This journal seeks to identify general principles that explain the evolutionary dynamics and functioning of historical societies and develop specific models, typically developed as computer algorithms or mathematical equations. To reveal general historical patterns, evaluate key assumptions made by models, and test hypotheses on real-world historical societies, the journal functions as a platform for empirical content. Ultimately, this journal seeks to integrate historical models with data to facilitate theoretical progress.
The first issue was published in December 2010. Cliodynamics is a member of Scopus and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
University of Hertfordshire Cliodynamics Lab
The University of Hertfordshire's Cliodynamics Lab is the first lab in the world dedicated explicitly to the new research area of Cliodynamics. The Cliodynamics Lab is based at the University of Hertfordshire and is directed by Pieter François, who founded the Lab in 2015.
Santa Fe Institute
The Santa Fe Institute is a private, not-for-profit research and education center where leading scientists grapple with some of the most compelling and complex problems of our time. The institute supports work in complex modeling of networks and dynamical systems. One of the areas of SFI reseach is Cliodynamics (see History as Science).
In the past the Institute has sponsored a series of conversations and meetings on theoretical history (see, for example, An Inquiry into History, Big History, and Metahistory).
- Longue durée
- Cultural evolution
- Generations (book)
- Psychohistory (fictional) differs from cliodynamics in its attempt to connect individuals directly to societal dynamics. In contrast, cliodynamics analyses societies as groups of individuals nested within ever-larger groups, ultimately and indirectly comprising a society
- Peter Turchin Arise cliodynamics, 2008 Nature (3 July 2008)
- Turchin, Peter; Brennan, Rob; Currie, Thomas E.; Feeney, Kevin C.; Francois, Pieter; Hoyer, Daniel; Manning, J. G.; Marciniak, Arkadiusz; Mullins, Daniel; Palmisano, Alessio; Peregrine, Peter; Turner, Edward A. L.; Whitehouse, Harvey (2015). "Seshat: The Global History Databank". Cliodynamics. 6: 77. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/9qx38718
- Kirby, Kathryn R.; Gray, Russell D.; Greenhill, Simon J.; Jordan, Fiona M.; Gomes-Ng, Stephanie; Bibiko, Hans-Jörg; Blasi, Damián E.; Botero, Carlos A.; Bowern, Claire; Ember, Carol R.; Leehr, Dan; Low, Bobbi S.; McCarter, Joe; Divale, William (2016). "D-PLACE: A Global Database of Cultural, Linguistic and Environmental Diversity". PLoS ONE. 11 (7).http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0158391#sec015
- Peter N. Peregrine, Atlas of Cultural Evolution, World Cultures 14(1), 2003
- "eHRAF Archaeology". Human Relations Area Files.
- "eHRAF World Cultures". Human Relations Area Files.
- Turchin P. 2003. Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; Turchin P. 2005. War and Peace and War. Plume; Turchin P. 2009. A theory for formation of large states. Journal of Global History 4:191-217. Turchin P. 2011. Warfare and the Evolution of Social Complexity: A Multilevel-Selection Approach. Structure and Dynamics 4(3(1)):1-37
- Goldstone J. 1991. Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World. Berkeley, California: University of California Press; Turchin P. 2003. Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; Turchin P. 2005. War and Peace and War. Plume
- Turchin P., Nefedov S. 2009. Secular Cycles. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; Korotayev, A., Malkov, A., & Khaltourina, D. 2006b. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends. Moscow: URSS. ISBN 5-484-00559-0; Korotayev, A. & Khaltourina D. 2006 Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends in Africa. Moscow: URSS. ISBN 5-484-00560-4.
- Currie, Thomas; Mace, Ruth (2009). "Political complexity predicts the spread of ethnolinguistic groups". PNAS. 106 (18): 7339–7344. doi:10.1073/pnas.0804698106. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
- Tsirel, S. V. 2004. On the Possible Reasons for the Hyperexponential Growth of the Earth Population. Mathematical Modeling of Social and Economic Dynamics / Ed. by M. G. Dmitriev and A. P. Petrov, pp. 367–9. Moscow: Russian State Social University, 2004; Korotayev A., Malkov A., Khaltourina D. 2006. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Compact Macromodels of the World System Growth. Moscow: URSS. ISBN 5-484-00414-4; Andrey Korotayev. The World System urbanization dynamics. History & Mathematics: Historical Dynamics and Development of Complex Societies. Edited by Peter Turchin, Leonid Grinin, Andrey Korotayev, and Victor C. de Munck. Moscow: KomKniga, 2006. ISBN 5-484-01002-0. P. 44-62 etc.
- Korotayev A., Zinkina J. Egyptian Revolution: A Demographic Structural Analysis. Entelequia. Revista Interdisciplinar 13 (2011): 139-169.
- Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution
- The University of Hertfordshire's Cliodynamics Lab
- Santa Fe Institute
- Turchin, Peter (2015). Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth. Beresta Books. ISBN 0996139516.
- Goldstone J. 1991. Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
- Komlos J., Nefedov S. 2002. Compact Macromodel of Pre-Industrial Population Growth. Historical Methods. (35): 92–94.
- Korotayev A., Malkov A., Khaltourina D. 2006a. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Compact Macromodels of the World System Growth. Moscow: URSS. ISBN 5-484-00414-4.
- Korotayev, A., Malkov, A., & Khaltourina, D. 2006b. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends. Moscow: URSS. ISBN 5-484-00559-0
- Korotayev, A. & Khaltourina D. 2006 Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends in Africa. Moscow: URSS. ISBN 5-484-00560-4
- Korotayev A., Zinkina J. Egyptian Revolution: A Demographic Structural Analysis. Entelequia. Revista Interdisciplinar 13 (2011): 139-165.
- Korotayev A. et al., A Trap At The Escape From The Trap? Demographic-Structural Factors of Political Instability in Modern Africa and West Asia. Cliodynamics 2/2 (2011): 1-28.
- Turchin P. 2003. Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
- Turchin P. 2005. War and Peace and War. Plume
- Turchin P. 2009. A theory for formation of large states. Journal of Global History 4:191-217.
- Turchin P. 2011. Warfare and the Evolution of Social Complexity: A Multilevel-Selection Approach. Structure and Dynamics 4(3(1)):1-37
- Turchin P. 2006. Population Dynamics and Internal Warfare: A Reconsideration. Social Evolution & History 5(2): 112–147 (with Andrey Korotayev).
- Turchin P. et al., eds. 2007. History & Mathematics: Historical Dynamics and Development of Complex Societies. Moscow: KomKniga. ISBN 5-484-01002-0
- Turchin P., Nefedov S. 2009. Secular Cycles. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
- Seshat: Global History Databank
- Peter Turchin's Cliodynamics Page
- Arise Cliodynamics
- Why do we need mathematical models of historical processes?
- Historical Dynamics in a time of Crisis: Late Byzantium, 1204-1453 (a discussion of some concepts of cliodynamics from the point of view of medieval studies)
- "Nature" article (August 2012): Human cycles: History as science
- Evolution Institute