• Dr. Timothy X. Merritt

Social Change - Emergence Theory

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The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin:

A quick Google search for books on Emergence Theory (also called Complexity Theory) will reveal a robust selection of non-fiction books designed to communicate the complex mathematics behind systems thinking and fractal patterns that are suitable for the layman. Included in this list are:

  • James Gleick’s(1988) layman’s guide Chaos: Making a New Science

  • Stephan Wolfram’s tour de force A New Kind of Science

  • And the more advanced reader simply must dig into Pierre-Simon Laplace’s (1818) A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities. This is the “classic work on probability that lays out his system for reasoning based on probability” (Bishop, 2012, p. 156)

But where is all the Emergence Theory fiction? Its relative absence from the marketplace may indicate a new and exciting field of endeavor for the fiction writer.


There are some examples. The Dispossessed is the 6th book of the “Hainish Cycle,” in which Ursula LeGuin explores a wide variety of social systems located on different planets. On the satellite planet of Anarres, the protagonist spends time in an idealistic social structure described as anarcho-syndicalism. The author claimed that this was an attempt to embody anarchism and was “the most idealistic, and to me, the most interesting, of all political theories” (Barham, M., 2020, Online)



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