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Social theory and system dynamics practice

Lane, David C. (1999) Social theory and system dynamics practice. European Journal of Operational Research, 113 (3). pp. 501-527. ISSN 0377-2217

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Identification Number: 10.1016/S0377-2217(98)00192-1


This paper explores the social theories implicit in system dynamics (SD) practice. Groupings of SD practice are observed in different parts of a framework for studying social theories. Most are seen to be located within `functionalist sociology'. To account for the remainder, two new forms of practice are discussed, each related to a different paradigm. Three competing conclusions are then offered: 1. The implicit assumption that SD is grounded in functionalist sociology is correct and should be made explicit. 2. Forrester's ideas operate at the level of method not social theory so SD, though not wedded to a particular social theoretic paradigm, can be re-crafted for use within different paradigms. 3. SD is consistent with social theories which dissolve the individual/society divide by taking a dialectical, or feedback, stance. It can therefore bring a formal modelling approach to the `agency/structure' debate within social theory and so bring SD into the heart of social science. The last conclusion is strongly recommended.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1999 North-Holland Publishing Company
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2008 10:48
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 01:40

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