1st Edition

Social Synthesis Finding Dynamic Patterns in Complex Social Systems

By Philip Haynes Copyright 2018
    202 Pages
    by Routledge

    202 Pages
    by Routledge

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    How is it possible to understand society and the problems it faces? What sense can be made of the behaviour of markets and government interventions? How can citizens understand the course that their lives take and the opportunities available to them?

    There has been much debate surrounding what methodology and methods are appropriate for social science research. In a larger sense, there have been differences in quantitative and qualitative approaches and some attempts to combine them. In addition, there have also been questions of the influence of competing values on all social activities versus the need to find an objective understanding. Thus, this aptly named volume strives to develop new methods through the practice of ‘social synthesis’, describing a methodology that perceives societies and economies as manifestations of highly dynamic, interactive and emergent complex systems. Furthermore, helping us to understand that an analysis of parts alone does not always lead to an informed understanding, Haynes presents to the contemporary researcher an original tool called Dynamic Pattern Synthesis (DPS) – a rigorous method that informs us about how specific complex social and economic systems adapt over time.

    A timely and significant monograph, Social Synthesis will appeal to advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, research professionals and academic researchers informed by sociology, economics, politics, public policy, social policy and social psychology.

    List of Boxes

    List of Figures

    List of Tables




    Chapter One: Methodology: towards a representation of complex system dynamics


    Complexity Science

    The classical reductionist method

    Beyond reductionist science

    Sensitivity to initial conditions





    Summarising the influences of complexity theory

    Understanding system change as patterns

    Complexity in economic systems

    Time and Space

    Critical Realism

    Case similarity and difference

    Convergence and divergence

    Complex causation

    Methodological conclusions

    Mixed methods


    Chapter Two: the Method - introducing Dynamic Pattern Synthesis (DPS)


    Cluster Analysis (CA)

    Cluster Analysis: specific approaches

    Distance measures

    Hierarchical and non-hierarchical cluster analysis

    Clustering algorithms

    Dendrogram charts

    Icicle chart

    Using SPSS to calculate and compare cluster methods

    Further considerations of the effects of clustering algorithms

    Understanding variable relationships within cluster formulation

    Repeating Cluster Analysis over time

    Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)

    Crisp set QCA

    Accounting for time in case based methods

    Combining the two methods: Cluster Analysis and QCA

    QCA and software packages

    Applying QCA

    An alternative confirmation method: ANOVA

    The application of Custer Analysis and QCA as a combined method

    Dynamic Pattern Synthesis: seven cities, three years later

    Threshold setting for binary crisp set conversion

    Primary Implicant ‘near misses’

    Other considerations for the Dynamic Pattern Synthesis

    The stability of variables in DPS

    Stability of cases in the chosen sample

    The size of the chosen sample

    The number of time points in the DPS


    Chapter Three: macro examples of Dynamic Pattern Synthesis (DPS)


    Macro case study 1: health and social care in Europe

    Macro Case study 1, wave 1, 2004

    Macro case study 1, wave 2, 2006

    Macro case study 1, wave 4, 2010

    Macro case study 1, wave 5, 2013

    Macro case study 1: conclusions




    Macro case study 2: the evolution of the euro based economies

    Macro case study 2, wave 1, 2002

    Macro case study 2, wave 2, 2006

    Macro case study 2, wave 3, 2013

    Macro case study 2: conclusions




    Chapter Four: A meso case study example: London Boroughs


    Meso case study: 2010

    Meso case study, 2011

    Meso case study, 2012

    Meso case study: conclusions




    Chapter Five: micro case study example: older people in Sweden

    Micro case study: older people in Sweden born in 1918

    Micro case study: wave 1, 2004

    Micro case study, wave 2, 2006

    Micro case study, wave 4, 2010

    Conclusions for the micro case study




    Chapter Six: Conclusions

    Dynamic Pattern Synthesis (DPS) and different dynamic typologies

    Variable patterns

    Case patterns

    The stability of case and variable interactions: towards some typologies

    Stable dynamics

    Case instability

    Cluster resilience

    System Instability

    Reflections on complexity theory and DPS


    Short and long range interactions and feedbacks

    System openness and dynamics

    Case and Data Patterns

    Case dynamics and complexity theory




    Philip Haynes is Professor of Public Policy in the School of Applied Social Science at the University of Brighton, UK.

    I highly recommend this book which has several case-studies of complex change over time. Complexity theory fits the social sciences well because there is both stability and instability in the social patterns. Here we find good empirical examples. The author observes patterns over time using three main methods: a complex cluster analysis, the discerning of prime implicants from among the configuration’s characteristics, and Boolean truth-table analysis. The author thus reduces and simplifies the findings. The book makes extensive use of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) while extending this ‘mixed method’ to an intertemporal range.

    Wendy Olsen, Reader in Socio-Economic Research, The University of Manchester, UK

    This book responds to two important currents influencing contemporary social science: critical realism and complexity science. It provides an account of a promising new analytic method, Dynamic Pattern Synthesis, and illustrates how one can use the method with examples including the analysis of health and social care. I look forward to the application of this innovative and powerful method to a wide range of policy-relevant topics.

    Nigel Gilbert, Professor of Sociology, University of Surrey, UK