Social thermodynamics

The Social Thermodynamics of Ilya Prigogine (image)
Captioned image from the 1979 article "The Social Thermodynamics of Ilya Prigogine" by Wil Lepkowski. [2]
In human thermodynamics, social thermodynamics is the use or study of thermodynamics in sociology. Synonyms include: sociological thermodynamics and socio-thermodynamics.

In 1928, Pitirim Sorokin, in his Contemporary Sociological Theories, chapter: Mechanistic School, in review of Leon Winiarski’s 1890s “mechanistic and energetistic interpretations”, was referring to “social thermodynamics” and its basic laws. [5]

In 1972, political scientist Marlan Blissett, in the book Politics in Science, in a chapter devoted to the subject of “laws of social thermodynamics” (similar to the laws of human thermodynamics). [1]

In the 1979 article "The Social Thermodynamics of Ilya Prigogine", American chemist and science writer Wil Lepkowski argued that the nonequilibrium thermodynamics of Belgian chemist Ilya Prigogine could lead to new ways of understanding social processes. [2]

In 2004, Indian writer Biplap Pal cited Prigogine as being the one who started social thermodynamics, with ideas on people defined as atoms and families or human units as molecules; studying associations, such as marriage, and dissociations, such as death or divorce, in terms of equilibrium equations, chemical kinetics, and statistical mechanics; these human molecule ideas, however, may be a misattribution to Prigogine’s student Erich Jantsch, who did specifically view people as "molecules" [3]

In 2012, Indian authors Dinesh Pothineni, Pratik Mishra, and Aadil Rasheed, in their “Social Thermodynamics: Modelling Communication Dynamics in Social Network”, attempted to apply thermodynamics to communication networks; the abstract of which is as follows:

Thermodynamics, a concept thought of two centuries ago, refurbished and elaborated since, assimilated and transposed to distinctive disciplines stretching from neuroscience to economics but still lacks in-depth exploration of its impact on social networks. The aim is to model thermodynamic principles after social networks, to understand how different variables of the system such as entropy, temperature, energy and pressure steers the communication between agents at a broader sense. These innate synthetic variables of social thermodynamics can expose; varied and difficult to analyze dynamics in a network with higher order of approximation. Quantifying these variables in this context has promising applications in business intelligence, information diffusion and network analysis. This paper casts light on distinct attempts to measure social entropy and other social thermodynamic variables, while presenting methods to construct various thermodynamic processes to study these variables in a restricted environment. We further discuss our observations, findings and challenges in modeling social network as a thermal gaseous system. The paper focus on how these variables behave and what the standard relations signify in social context, more detailed analysis of isochoric and adiabatic process equivalents are studied while addressing roadblocks encountered by theorists in the past. Our models are experimented with sample sets collected over a period of 6 months from an enterprise social network for 250K users with over 860M connections. We aim to extend the scope of social interaction analysis beyond today's limitation, thus benefiting from many wide-established principles in thermodynamics.”

Based on the fact that this is an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) based conference, themed on communication, the above paper is likely based on the Shannon bandwagon model of information entropy, used as a “open sesame” key to get into the door of human chemical thermodynamics.

See also
Sociological thermodynamics

1. Blissett, Marlan. (1972). Politics in Science (pg. 25). Little, Brown.
Lipkowski, Wil. (1979). "The Social Thermodynamics of Ilya Prigogine." Chemical and Engineering News, 56(13): 30-33. April 16.
3. (a) Prigogine, Ilya. (1976). “Order Through Fluctuation: Self-Organization and Social Systems” in: Evolution and Consciousness: Human Systems in Transition (ch. 5, pgs. 93-134) edited by Erich Jantsch and Conrad Waddington. Addison-Wesley.
(b) Social Thermodynamics (Biplap Pal) – Yahoo Groups, Nov 29, 2004.
4. Pothineni, Dinesh; Mishra, Pratik; Rasheed, Aadil. (2012). “Social Thermodynamics: Modelling Communication Dynamics in Social Network” (abs), The First International Conference on Future Generation Communication Technologies, Dec. IEEE.
5. Sorokin, Pitirim. (1928). Contemporary Sociological Theories (pdf) (§1: The Mechanistic School [pdf]; social thermodynamics, pg. 27). Harper & Brothers.

Further reading
● Dongski, Choi. (2000). Social Thermodynamics (Korean editions). Publisher.

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