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On the meaning of crisis. A network based approach to collective thinking

J.P. Cárdenas, C. Urbina, G. Vidal, M. Fuentes, G. D. Gomez, I. Oliva


The collective behavior of highly complex systems is a remarkable emerging property. In social systems, the sense and meaning acquired by a certain phenomenon for a group of people could also be. In relation with this, in the last decades diverse studies establish a direct link between the reality observed, perceived and objectified have acquired relevance as such. The social construction of it derives from complex processes that emanate, among other causes, from the way in which the actors interpret and internalize the production of symbolic language. The "meaningful" interpretations end up constructing a certain form of that reality. The aim of this work is to explore the construction of the meaning and collective interpretation of the crisis phenomenon through a social experiment where people used a software called Fractal-IS to choose concepts related to the phenomenon creating a network of concepts. Our results suggest not only a clear dichotomy in the meaning of the phenomenon that manifests itself at a social level, but also a complex structure emerging from the interaction between different concept associated with it. At one extreme, the crisis is situated and interpreted as a dangerous conflict, at the other, the crisis is understood and interpreted as a transformation that translates into opportunities. The different meanings of the phenomenon seem to respond to some social attributes such as age and professional training. The proposed network-based method seems to be a powerfull tool to capture the social meaning regarding a certain topic or phenomenon where the social construction of meaning emerges and deepens its relationship with the social behavior.

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