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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A self-organizational model of community evolution Slocombe, D. Scott


The purpose of this work is the development of a conceptual model of the interaction of ecological, economic, and social factors in community evolution. The theory of self-organization (Ilya Prigogine and colleagues) is used to relate the growing body of insights into social and societal evolution derived from sociology, anthropology, economics, the community and economic development literature, and other fields to the problems of planning. A schematic of the interdisciplinary modelling process and a classification of models are developed. The assumptions and goals of the conceptual model presented here are made explicit through the use of a "knowledge vee" (Novak & Gowin, 1984). The conceptual model of community evolution developed here entails eight variables representing the ecologic, economic, and social factors (landscape, land tenure, land use, social inputs, historical inputs, production, consumption, and resources) and four variables derived from evolutionary, non-equilibrium social theory and self-organization theory ("mass," "energy," "tension," and "entropy"). These variables are related conceptually to form a nonequilibrium, self-organizing "model" of community evolution. Several possible examples of self-organization processes in human systems are briefly discussed. Various implications of the model for planning and understanding community evolution are examined. They include: the process view of evolution, the role of the internal history of the system, the stochastic element in self-organizing processes, the influence of environmental conditions, the importance of qualitative change, and the mechanisms of long-range order.

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