Systemism: the alternative to individualism and holism

Three radical worldviews and research approaches are salient in social studies: individualism, holism, and systemism. Individualism focuses on the composition of social systems, whereas holism focuses on their structure. Neither of them is adequate, one because all individuals are interrelated and two because there are no relations without relata. The only cogent and viable alternative is systemism, according to which everything is either a system or a component of a system, and every system has peculiar (emergent) properties that its components lack. The simplest model of a system, whether concrete or abstract, is the ordered triple composition– environment–structure. Concrete systems, whether physical, biological, or social, are also characterized by their mechanism or modus operandi. This model is more realistic and therefore more useful. A few examples are examined. © 2000 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.
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