Simple Lives, Cultural Complexity
Rethinking Culture in Terms of Complexity Theory
By (author) Steen Bergendorff
Publication date:29 October 2009
Length of book:208 pages
Simple Lives, Cultural Complexity explores how people manage to live relatively simple lives while remaining seemingly unaware of the cultural complexity they produce while doing so. Using complexity theory, the book reconceptualizes culture as a complex dynamic system called cultural complexity, and argues that cultural complexity arises from persistent interactions among people and groups who act according to simple rules. The order produced is different from, and not reducible to, the interactions that created it. People only need simple rules of engagement in order to cope with their surroundings: rules that can be enacted through all kinds of strategies, and that together produce very complex emergent properties. Bergendorff argues that people do not need to know their entire "cultural order" and its formal logics to cope with everyday life. They do not need to be enculturated; they only need to be enskilled to act in everyday situations. Theoretically dense and rich, this book offers an innovative perspective on the concept of culture and the many ways that it is deployed and understood by its bearers.