Unruly ComplexityEcology, Interpretation, Engagement

Unruly ComplexityEcology, Interpretation, Engagement

Peter J. Taylor

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226790350

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Ambitiously identifying fresh issues in the study of complex systems, this book, in a model of interdisciplinary exploration, makes these concerns accessible to scholars in the fields of ecology, environmental science, and science studies. It explores concepts used to deal with complexity in three realms: ecology and socio-environmental change; the collective constitution of knowledge; and the interpretations of science as they influence subsequent research. For each realm, the author shows that unruly complexity—situations that lack definite boundaries, where what goes on “outside” continually restructures what is “inside,” and where diverse processes come together to produce change—should not be suppressed by partitioning complexity into well-bounded systems which can be studied or managed from an outside vantage point. Using case studies from Australia, North America, and Africa, he encourages readers to be troubled by conventional boundaries—especially between science and the interpretation of science—and to reflect more self-consciously on the conceptual and practical choices researchers make.