Journal article

Social Interaction and the City: The Effect of Space on the Reduction of Entropy

How can individual acts amount to coherent systems of interaction? In this paper, we attempt to answer this key question by suggesting that there is a place for cities in the way we coordinate seemingly chaotic decisions. We look into the elementary processes of social interaction exploring a particular concept, “social entropy,” or how social systems deal with uncertainty and unpredictability in the transition from individual actions to systems of interaction. Examining possibilities that (i) actions rely on informational differences latent in their environments and that (ii) the city itself is an information environment to actions, we propose that (iii) space becomes a form of creating differences in the probabilities of interaction. We investigate this process through simulations of distinct material scenarios, to find that space is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the reduction of entropy. Finally, we suggest that states and fluctuations of entropy are a vital part of social reproduction and reveal a deep connection between social, informational, and spatial systems.

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