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Managing Social Entropy for the Sake of Peace and Prosperity

A Clarion Call for Thinking Outside the Box

by David Kirshbaum

Table of Contents

Introduction: Entropy in the Social Sciences

Entropy: Basic Definition

Managing Entropy

Warning: The Importance of Managing Entropy Wisely


Introduction: Entropy in the Social Sciences

Entropy was originally a principle of the physical sciences but recently it has found useful and important application in the social sciences as well, what Professor Kenneth Bailey at UCLA calls "Social Entropy". Professor Bailey is considered to be the father of modern Social Entropy theory.

Entropy is the natural decay that occurs over time in theoretically all systems that are highly organized or are maintained by lots of energy. Such systems naturally decay over time to disorganized and low energy states. Such decay can lead to chaos and destruction, or if understood in advance, it can be managed to have a positive effect on society by serving as an opportunity for renewal and to try new things. Such management is indicated by Johan Galtung, the father of modern peace studies, as a requirement for peace to last (Positive Peace).

32re444gbvvvvvIsn't this what we experience throughout our lives - how things are always falling apart, and that it takes more and more energy and resources to maintain them, and eventually we have to give in and be willing to try something completely new, or to try a different direction?

Managing Entropy

The most common way to manage social entropy is to support the areas of society where innovation and change are most likely to be found, such as in the arts or in academia or work with young people, or other areas on the fringe of society, and then to provide a safety net for people who for one reason or another dwell and work in these areas or on the fringes of society.

Goth party in a Tokyo Boardroom

Another interesting area to support as a way of managing entropy is civil society - the spontaneous, decentralized, highly motivated collection of non-profit organizations that work on the many issues that confront society, and that are found on the agenda at the United Nations.

A Warning: The Importance of Managing Entropy Wisely

Ultimately, the lesson of unstoppable entropy is that we must join together and take action, or the inevitable processes of entropy will quickly get out of hand, and that will cost us a lot more than if we had taken action strategically and pre-emptively, in advance.


Bailey, Kenneth D. Social Entropy Theory. SUNY Press, Albany, NY (1990).

Bailey, Kenneth D. Social Entropy Theory: An Overview. Systems Practice, vol. 3, No. 4 (1990).

Bailey, Kenneth D. Sociological Entropy Theory: Toward a Statistical and Verbal Congruence. Quantity and Quality, 18 (1983), pp. 113-133. Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Galtung, Johan. Peace by Peaceful Means: Peace and Conflict, Development and Civilization.

Prio Publications (International Peace Research Institute, Oslo.

Sage Publications, London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi (1996)

Galtung, Johan. "Three Approaches to Peace: Peacekeeping, Peacemaking and Peacebuilding". Essays in Peace Research II (1976).

La Carmina. “Corporate Goth Party in a Tokyo Boardroom: a Strange-Themed Club, or an Office Meeting?”. Blog. January 11, 2014.


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