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Complementary to the homogenizing influence of conformity, we find the diversifying effect of the division of labor. Because of their limited cognitive capacity, individuals within a complex society tend to specialize in a particular domain. As illustrated by (1994) computer simulation, this process of cognitive differentiation is driven by a positive feedback mechanism: individuals who were successful in solving a particular type of problem will get more of these problems delegated to them, and thus develop a growing expertise or authority in that domain. The backing of a recognized expert will contribute to the acceptance of a particular idea. This is the criterion of authority.

The integration on the level of norms and codes fostered by conformity and the differentiation on the level of expertise fostered by authority together produce a complexification of the social system. The process is similar to the metasystem transition which produced the differentiated organs and tissues in a multicellular organism. Thus, it leads to the further devlopment of a social superorganism.

Copyright© 1997 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

F. Heylighen,

Oct 3, 1997


Metasystem Transition Theory


Evolutionary Epistemology

Knowledge Selection Criteria

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