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Laura Swantek, graduate student in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, will defend her dissertation proposal at 11 a.m. on Friday, September 13 in ISTB-1, Room 401.
"A Change is Gonna Come: A Complex Systems Approach to the Emergence of Social Complexity in Middle Range Society"
C. Michael Barton (Chair), Katherine Spielmann, Nancy Serwint.
The emergence of complexity in human social systems involves the development of complex social structures and the actions and interactions of social actors at multiple scales. These actions and interactions include the competition for durable and inheritable wealth from which inequality and social and economic control emerges, accompanied by greater interdependence of social entities.
This research seeks to understand how practices and interactions of actors at different scales (community, region and island) structure social networks and lead to the emergence of social complexity at the system level in middle-range society using data obtained through the excavation of Prehistoric Bronze Age (2700-1650 BCE) settlements and cemeteries and systematic regional surveys on Cyprus.
Variation in multiple, archaeologically recognizable facets of complexity, including wealth inequality and success in social competition in the form of control of labor, participation in trade networks, access to resources and presence of settlement hierarchies, will be measured using proxy data and analyzed using concepts derived from complexity theory and small-world network analysis to identify the mathematical models indicative of different kinds of small-world networks that may have structured society, and elucidate how they interact and lead to the emergence of social complexity as a system-level phenomenon.
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