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Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts (1st edn)

Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan
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date: 18 July 2024

Systems Analysislocked

Systems Analysislocked

  • Jean-Frédéric Morin,
  • Christian Olsson
  •  and Ece Özlem Atikcan


This chapter examines systems analysis, which broadly refers to the theories and methods used in the study of interdependent elements forming a complex whole. Proponents of systems analysis hold that interacting systems exhibit properties that one cannot understand by only looking at their individual parts. Complexity science notably aims to explain the properties that govern complex systems such as non-linearity, emergence, self-regulation, and adaptation. In both natural and social sciences, the systems view of life has gained traction in recent years; the number of studies adopting a systemic lens is increasing. Yet, systems analysis remains relatively marginal. The goal of systems analysis is to understand how interactions between individual parts give rise to properties that cannot be explained by looking at them separately.

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