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Using methods of non-linear dynamics in historical social research : application of chaos theory in the analysis of the worker's movement in pre revolutionary Russia

Die Anwendung von nicht-linearen dynamischen Methoden in der Historischen Sozialforschung: Anwendung der Chaos-Theorie auf die Analyse der Arbeiterbewegung im vorrevolutionären Rußland
[journal article]

Andreev, Andrey; Borodkin, Leonid; Levandovskii, Mikhail

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Abstract "Die Autoren analysieren offizielle Statistiken der Streikbewegung in Rußland während der Jahre 1895 bis 1908 mit Methoden der Chaos-Theorie und entwickeln ein Modell zur Erklärung nicht-linearer Prozesse. Der Verlauf und die Häufigkeit der Streiks werden als Selbstorganisation der Industriearbeiter interpretiert, was der herkömmlichen Meinung nach dem Dominieren äußerer Faktoren widerspricht." (Autorenreferat)

"Social conflicts often contain unpredictable peaks of activities and relatively long periods of non-stable behaviour. How could we explain such a non-linear, chaotic behaviour? What is more substantial - internal factors of these effects or external causes? Sometimes historians take into account only external factors as the main causes of the historical phenomena, though they possibly play the 'trigger' role in the processes of the 'social explosives'. Such questions can be asked in the investigation of the strike movement in Russia in the end of 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. One of possible ways to answer these questions is to apply the theory of non-linear systems with dynamically stochastic behaviour (or 'chaos'), developed in the last decades. We used official statistics of industrial strikes in the Russian Empire during the years 1895-1908. Our research demonstrates the possible appearance of 'chaos' (in mathematical sense) in the system behaviour and the existence of a rather long unstable period. To describe the development of strike movement we built the quantitative model. The system of the four non-linear ordinary differential equations was constructed after using advanced mathematical procedures to analyse the time-series. This model had a good predictor feature and for defined values of the coefficients demonstrated a chaotic behaviour. The research reveals the great role of the mechanism of information transfer and the significance of internal factors in the strike movement." (author's abstract)
Keywords historical development; post-socialist country; theory; labor movement; strike; USSR successor state; non-linear model; self-organization; Russia; nineteenth century; twentieth century; chaos
Classification Social History, Historical Social Research
Method empirical; quantitative empirical; historical; theory application
Document language English
Publication Year 1997
Page/Pages p. 64-83
Journal Historical Social Research, 22 (1997) 3/4
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works