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Structural-Functional Dynamics in the Analysis of Socio-Economic Systems: Adaptation of Structural Change Processes to Biological Systems of Human Interaction

Richard Chase
The American Journal of Economics and Sociology
Vol. 39, No. 1 (Jan., 1980), pp. 49-64
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3486770
Page Count: 16
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Structural-Functional Dynamics in the Analysis of Socio-Economic Systems: Adaptation of Structural Change Processes to Biological Systems of Human Interaction
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Abstract

This article is the second of two that suggest outlines for a biological (evolutionary) model for analyzing socioeconomic systems. The first article developed concepts applicable to non-human biological systems. This article broadens the model to incorporate factors pertinent to human societal systems. First discussed is human volition or purposive choice. Because of this, the particular path of socioeconomic change need not be "accidental" or statistical as with the "natural selection" applicable to non-human biological systems, but rather may proceed by "volitional selection" from among feasible change paths. Second, the thermodynamic concept of increasing entropy (order to disorder) indicates that economics' "production functions" need be seen more as transformation functions; and thus to overcome accumulating entropic disorder, continuous technological change is necessary. Such technical (man-thing) changes induce broader societal (man-man) changes. This is consistent with the evolutionary argument for unidirectional change from the less complex and less stable to the more complex. A third article on the economic theory consistent with the above concepts is planned.

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