Processes of Justice in Community

  • Mary T. Sheerin


Introduction: Isabelle Stengers and Ilya Prigogine conclude their influential book on complexity theories, Order out of Chaos, with the following: The ideas to which we have devoted much space in this book - the ideas of instability, of fluctuation - diffuse into the social sciences. We know now that societies are immensely complex systems involving a potentially enormous number of bifurcations exemplified by the variety of cultures that have evolved in the relatively short span of human history. We know that such systems are highly sensitive to fluctuations. This leads both to hope and a threat: hope, since even small fluctuations may grow and change the overall structure. As a result, individual activity is not doomed to insignificance. On the other hand, this is also a threat, since in our universe the security of stable, permanent rules seems gone forever. We are living in a dangerous and uncertain world that inspires no blind confidence, but ...only a feeling of qualified hope [p.313].