Postmodernism and Popularisation: The Cultural Life of Chaos Theory

Smith, Warren and Higgins, Matthew (2003). Postmodernism and Popularisation: The Cultural Life of Chaos Theory. Culture and Organization, 9(2) pp. 93–104.



Popular accounts of science have helped to stimulate greater public interest in the role of science in contemporary society. For example, chaos theory and complexity theory have proven to be highly marketable science "products". These concepts have increasingly travelled into wider culture and, notably, the study of organization. Through an interpretation that promotes a leaning towards uncertainty, unpredictability and ambiguity, these accounts of science have been seen to provoke a (postmodern) re-conceptualisation of our view of the world. Indeed the overtly philosophical style of many of these stories has provided a rich source of material for social scientists seeking to explain and legitimise developments in organization and cultural studies. Concentrating upon the treatment of chaos theory as a "postmodern science", this paper examines and questions the historical and cultural influences that have encouraged the appropriation of theories from the natural science.

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