Social dynamics

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Social dynamics (or sociodynamics) is the study of the behavior of groups that results from the interactions of individual group members as well to the study of the relationship between individual interactions and group level behaviors.[1]


The field of social dynamics brings together ideas from economics, sociology, social psychology, and other disciplines, and is a sub-field of complex adaptive systems or complexity science. The fundamental assumption of the field is that individuals are influenced by one another's behavior. The field is closely related to system dynamics. Like system dynamics, social dynamics is concerned with changes over time and emphasizes the role of feedbacks. However, in social dynamics individual choices and interactions are typically viewed as the source of aggregate level behavior, while system dynamics posits that the structure of feedbacks and accumulations are responsible for system level dynamics.[2] Research in the field typically takes a behavioral approach, assuming that individuals are boundedly rational and act on local information. Mathematical and computational modeling are important tools for studying social dynamics. This field grew out of work done in the 1940s by game theorists such as Duncan & Luce, and even earlier works by mathematician Armand Borel.[3] Because social dynamics focuses on individual level behavior, and recognizes the importance of heterogeneity across individuals, strict analytic results are often impossible. Instead, approximation techniques, such as mean-field approximations from statistical physics, or computer simulations are used to understand the behaviors of the system. In contrast to more traditional approaches in economics, scholars of social dynamics are often interested in non-equilibrium, or dynamic, behavior.[1][4] That is, behavior that changes over time.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Durlauf, Steven; Young, Peyton (2001). Social Dynamics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-04186-3.
  2. ^ Sterman, John (2000). Business Dynamics. McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-07-231135-5.
  3. ^ Luce, Duncan (1957). Games and Decisions. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0486659437.
  4. ^ "Brookings Institution, Center for Social Dynamics and Policy". Retrieved 29 September 2012.


  • Weidlich, W. (1997) "Sociodynamics applied to the evolution of urban and regional structures". Discrete Dynamics in Nature and Society, Vol. 1, pp. 85–98.

Available online:

Further reading[edit]

  • Easley, David; Klienberg, Jon (2010). Networks, Crowds, and Markets. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-19533-1.
  • Jackson, Matthew O. (2008). Social and Economic Networks. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13440-6.

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