Anthro 179A: Social Dynamics
First Weekend Assignment
This class is based on exploratory research: review of such research in social simulations and long term studies, and exploratory research
by the student. Projects may follow various formats: review and critique of a line of research; conceptual design of a project in social dynamics;
empirical research analysis; finding and running appropriate simulation programs and discussing the results and their implications for theories of social
dynamics. Research possibilities will be discussed in class, but they require that you EXPLORE resources on the web and in publications, and that you
define a problem of study for yourself. Students may collaborate on these projects.
- Each student will be required to do a lecture or lab session outline and post it to the Discussion NoteBoard. Be prepared to be called upon to do the class notes when your turn comes.
- Each student is responsible for a literature or project review (review of literature or project relevant to your term paper project) to be posted to the Discussion NoteBoard. You should also post a no more than 1-page proposal for your term project to the NoteBoard
- Each student's term paper/project should be presented in one of the three Thursdays the last three weeks of class. A paper/project proposal is due the 4th week and posted to the web after reviewing the instructor's comments.
- Extra credit... OBSOLETE...: take a look at week 3 syllabus reading - text of the article, an introduction to homeokinetics, and then see if
you can find the flaws in this paper,
THE SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS, or do a critique of
one or more web pages in Entropy on the World Wide Web
... OBSOLETE...from here on for 2003
2-2-00 Just to review the project proposals and respond to questions about them:
I just wanted to make sure that I am grasping the concept you want for our projects. After hearing your last few lectures I am thinking about changing my topic. Are we trying to look at a self organized system? I was thinking about Alcohol and the effect on society it creates within itself as a measure of a second life.....alcoholism ( in a sense) I am trying to figure out if this is heading somewhere in the right direction. It seems to me that there is a self running community of the people that "drink"..... not just for college students but everyone and it sucks people in.....Well please write me back if you have time..
I am a student in your Social Dynamics class. I had a question in regard to the proposal.
I am a little bit confused about the project. I'm not totally sure what you are looking for in the project. I'm not sure how to take my topic (interaction of different religious systems, possibly in the colonial context) and apply it to the readings and the lectures. In regards to the proposal, I'm lost. If you could give me some insight so that I could have the proposal to you by Thursday as you requested, that would be great. Thank you.
Answer: Both topics are excellent, and yes, like Stephanie says, you should try to look at your topic as a self-organizing system, a dynamic / changing system. The 1-page recommendation for questions to start with (Robbins and Hassler, Week 1, and in your reader) is now on the web at:
Identify your primary atomisms (e.g., individuals) and collectives (e.g., groups) and how things move and change over time and at what spatial scales; look at Wilkinson to see examples of :
8:10 AM 2/3/00
Other atomisms above the collective (e.g., emergent structures, like local groups of alcoholics forming chapters of a worldwide Alcoholics Anonymous)
- Other collectives below the atomism (e.g., a belief system)
Then think about some of the problems of how a self-organizing system that you identify for your topic works over time (multiple time scales) and space (spatial scales at which processes operate, say through a network).
And of course use your literature (theories about alcoholism, about religious proselytizing and conversion, i.e. interacting religions in some context) and case studies and sources of ideas about self organizing of complex systems to help develop some central themes of your paper, along with illustrations, relevant data, etc.
Is that a help? I am just responding to your specific questions, not suggesting that these topics provide the only kind of format for the projects.
From email@example.com Thu Feb 3 08:09:09 2000
Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2000 08:07:21 -0800 (PST)
I'll reply to you Chris (see below) but to start, a word to
My first email emphasized systems analysis and dynamics from a
physics perspective (first 3 weeks emphasis), and Chris's topic
is a good one for that theme. There is for example a lot of
literature on effects of sunlight, or the lack of it (e.g.,
incidence of depression and other psychological syndromes in far
northern countries), effects of solar storms/sunspots on
heightened frequenices of aggressive behavior, effects of Santa
Ana conditions (hot dry desert winds) ... so those are effects
of boundary conditions, energy/materials flowing into a system
having effects and perturbations.
But for most of you, you will be dealing with various kinds of
social interactions -- so some of the new themes of week 4 and
the last lecture may be relevant (hey notetakers: way to go!!!
we're getting them up, ALL these notes and office hour recaps are
GREAT, everyone to be congratulated), for example:
SOCIAL NORMS: can you observe norms such as fairness,
equality, circumstances for vengeance, circumstances for
"correlated" cooperation, rules for coordination, the emergence
of new language/signalling (the themes of chapters 1,2,3,4,5
respectively in SKYRMS book, THE EVOL OF THE SOCIAL CONTRACT) in
the groups or social interactions you are studying? What might
be/have been the dynamics for the EVOLUTION of these norms? How
did they get there? Are they consistent with some of the
principles and types of "stable" norms predicted by SKYRMS?
SOCIAL ROLES: some of these norms emerge along with
"correlated" behaviors among actors/agents/individuals such as
turn-taking, rules of priority (who's first? who's on home
territory?), rules of the division of labor or complementarity.
How did/do these social differentiations emerge/change/stabilize,
and what of the role of LACK OF FIT in allowing further changes,
BELIEF SYSTEMS: how, like the emergence norms, do we
get or observe changes/stabilities in convergence or divergence
in what kinds of things people say, what kinds of things they
believe, how these fit together in a belief system coordinated
with roles they might play, groups they might be members of, etc.
And of course, for a topic like Chris's (below), once you get the
effects of the environment on behavior, you then have the NORMS,
ROLES, BELIEFS that emerge in relation to: how people DEAL WITH
environmental influences ....
all for now
new CAIRS home page (Doug White) :-)
On Wed, 2 Feb 2000, Christan Basconcillo wrote:
> Professor White,
> Thank you for posting that last email. I was
> wondering if you can give me some input on this topic. I was going to
> change my topic on how the environment can have an effect onthe people in
> it. FOr example, sunlight in an office building. If you can give me any
> sort of direction, it would be greatly appreciated.
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Updated Wedmesday, 5-Jan-2000 08:37:45 PST