Recent decades have seen a dramatic growth in the literature on complex systems. Much of this has developed in mathematics and in the natural and computational sciences. Increasingly however it is also infusing the social sciences.
This has in many ways been a breath of fresh air. It has got social scientists drawing upon dynamic models from the natural sciences that can be extremely fertile in suggesting new insights – in terms for example of tipping points, bifurcations and co-evolving systems. It has created much greater interest in the non-linear dynamics of the social world – and in the macro-patterns that emerge unanticipated from the micro-interactions in which we are all involved.