Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems (Oct 2007)

Complexity of Social Stability: a Model-to-model Analysis of Yugoslavia’s Decline

  • Martin Neumann

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 5, no. 2
pp. 92 – 111


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In this paper a model-to-model analysis is described which compares a model of ethnic mobilisation with a model of hierarchy decline. Even though the two models are not concerned with the same or at least a similar target, they are related by empirical findings: e.g. the decline of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was predominantly driven by processes of ethnic mobilisation. This appears to be a more general pattern, not restricted to this specific example. Hence, both models can be regarded as describing two related aspects of one and the same social process. However, since neither models describe a concrete target system, but rely on the notion of stylised facts, the models cannot be directly compared with reference to an empirical relative. Instead, in this paper a theoretical framework is elaborated which works as a rule for a comparison: relying on a differentiation between mass phenomena and decisions centres, the process of ethnic mobilisation can be identified as a mass-phenomenon, while the process of hierarchy decline concerns social decision centres. While mass-phenomena gain their effectiveness by enforcing social institutions, the working condition for decision centres is the establishment of social positions. It will be argued that the relation between these two phenomena can be described by the analogy of a lock and key. This makes possible conclusions with regard to both social theory and empirical explanations.