ERIC Number: EJ931153
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 101
Taking Emergence Seriously: The Centrality of Circular Causality for Dynamic Systems Approaches to Development
Witherington, David C.
Human Development, v54 n2 p66-92 2011
The dynamic systems (DS) approach has emerged as an influential and potentially unifying metatheory for developmental science. Its central platform--the argument against design--suggests that structure spontaneously and without prescription emerges through self-organization. In one of the most prominent accounts of DS, Thelen and her colleagues [Spencer, Dineva, & Schoner, 2009a; Thelen & Smith, 1994, 2006] have extended the argument against design to a complete ontological rejection of structural explanation. I argue that this antistructuralist stance conceptually undermines the very principle of emergence through self-organization upon which the approach is built, jeopardizing its process focus. Taking emergence seriously entails a strong commitment to circular causality and the reciprocal nature of structure-function relations through the adoption of a pluralistic model of causality, one that recognizes both local-to-global processes of construction and global-to-local processes of constraint.
Descriptors: Models, Global Approach, Individual Development, Learning, Causal Models, Development, Context Effect
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
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