New Research on Social Tipping Points

Earlier this week, a group of scholars (including myself) published a review paper on social tipping points.  The article will be open access, and the article has now been made available online at https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aaaa75.

This paper originated in a workshop at the Complex Systems Society conference in Arizona in 2015.  An assessment of preliminary results occurred at a workshop in Oaxaca in 2017 with a group of researchers (including several of the paper’s authors) and practitioners.

In our article, we analyze how the term has morphed over time as its application has grown from natural systems to social and social-ecological systems.  We also note how the definitions and characteristics assigned to the term have proliferated.  This has led to a lack of clarity in the use of tipping points, particularly in social systems.  We identify 23 distinct features of tipping point definitions.  Using both qualitative and quantitative analyses, we propose definitions for social tipping points that draw upon the most frequent features and logical consistency.  The field is clearly in its infancy, and we welcome insights and comments on the paper.

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