Overview

In circa 1980, Bailey began to conceive a theory that entropy applies to social phenomena; his theory is said to “draw quite heavily” from Austrian biologist Ludwig Bertalanffy’s 1968 general systems theory.

The “social entropy theory model”, according to Bailey, studies human actors as they interact in physical space within and across "societal boundaries" (modeled on thermodynamic boundary). Bailey reasons that one needs to be able to measure the state of a social system using a variable other than that of equilibrium, and postulates that such a variable is entropy, which he defines as a “measure of system structure that has both theoretical and statistical interpretations”. He states that “entropy is a sibling concept of equilibrium and generally subsumes it” and thus the concept of equilibrium can still be used when appropriate.

In 1983, Bailey, in his “Sociological Entropy Theory: Towards a Statistical and Verbal Congruence”, attempted to meld Boltzmann entropy and Shannon entropy into one package, to see to sociology, via a ride on the Shannon bandwagon.

In the 1980s, Bailey’s efforts to quantify social systems began to turn towards a thermodynamics systems view of society, publishing papers such as “Equilibrium, Entropy, and Homeostasis”, Entropy Measures and Inequality”, among others. [4]

In 1990, Bailey, in his

Bailey’s overall incorrect opinion is that the nonequilibrium thermodynamics work of Belgian chemist Ilya Prigogine is more applicable to the study of social systems than is the chemical thermodynamics work of American engineer Willard Gibbs: [1]

“The twentieth century Prigogine entropy analysis provides a much more viable model for open systems, such as social systems, than nineteenth century Gibbsian equilibrium analysis.”

This is a common viewpoint, such as is popularized in the 1972 article "Thermodynamics of Evolution", but correctly the statement should be reversed, in that Prigogine's work is more applicable to phenomena such as Benard cell dynamics, whereas Gibbs' work is more applicable to chemical reaction studies, as in "love the chemical reaction". In any event, Bailey makes a readable effort in his theory.

Shannon entropy in sociology

Bailey seems to have scoured the literature to collect all publications that use the signal transmission entropy formula (Shannon entropy) of American electrical engineer Claude Shannon. Some of these are listed below:

● George A. Miller (1953) analyzed sociological organization via entropy and negentropy.

● Jerome Rothstein (1958) – argued for the equivalence of system “organization” and “negative entropy” of information theory.

● James Coleman (1964) – introduced an “entropy index” as a measure of diversity.

● Vittorio Capecchi and Frank Moller (1964-75) – used to classify the political participation of 108 Communist and Christian Democratic party workers.

● Walter Buckley (1967, 68) – mixes general systems theory and Shannon entropy; describing closed systems as entropic and open systems as negentropic; arguing that the equilibrium concept should not be applied to open systems.

● P. Pergler (1968) – applied to measuring the quality of prediction in sociological typology construction.

● Sandri (1968) – applied to the logic of classification.

● Feldman and El Houri (1975) – applied to a discussion of homogamy measures.

● McFarland (1969) – applied to the study of permeability of occupational workers.

● Vodakova and Vodak (1969) – conceived of a “vector entropy” for the study of the validation problem.

● Entwisle and Knepp (1970) – used to study the educational aspirations of high school students.

● Henri Theil (1967, 1970) – used to formulate his Theil index, a measure of economic of inequality.

● Frantisek Charvat (1970-73) – conceived of “semantic entropy” and “entropy of behavior”, eponym of the Havrda-Charvat entropy measure, Tsallis-Havrda-Charvát

● Hauser (1975) – applied McFarland’s entropy measure to the study of social diversity.

● Horan (1975) – applied to the analysis of the structure of teaching opportunities in academic departments.

● Jay Teachman (1980) – used to measure population diversity.

● Allison (1978) – analyzed Theil’s measures.

● J. Magidson (1981) -

● Katakis and Katakis (1982) – conceived of “teleonomic entropy” to study hierarchies of living systems.

Difficulties on theory

The central difficultly of Bailey’s entire theory is that he seems to have no idea of what entropy is. In his 1990 book

or essentially:

which, of course, is incorrect. Certainly, this may have been a typo? But such a typo in a book entitled "Social Entropy Theory" is inexcusable. In any event, on this mis-understood footing, Bailey goes on to explain conceptions such as Le Chatelier's principle in terms of an information theory, the resolution of the Specerian dilemma in terms of Bertalanffy's general systems theory, and describes, for instance, coded messages as being "highly entropic" to the code breaker of the intercepted message, among numerous other convoluted ideas. On the issue of social boundaries, to cite another example, he makes nonsensical statements such as "

“Organizations are open systems … as such, they are not bound by the perpetual increase in entropy dictated by the second law of thermodynamics.”

In sum, the majority of Bailey's theory, for the most part, assumes an equivalence of Clausius entropy

“Entropy [is] a basic generic measure of variation inanyvariable and as such easily related to virtuallyallof the statistics used in sociology. The inescapable conclusion is thatHis entropy and not information, and thatHand various other entropy formulations have great utility in sociology and will increasingly be used.”

It is difficult to express how corrupted this statement is, from a scientific point of view or thermodynamics standpoint. One may always wonder why Shannon acted (what his motives were) to seed this following?

Education

Bailey completed his BS in mathematics (1963), MA in sociology (1966), and PhD in sociology (1968), thesis “Human Ecology: A General Systems Approach”, all at the University of Texas, Austin. [2] He then began working as a professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles where he is currently a professor emeritus. [3]

Quotes

The following are quotes by Bailey:

“When I began studying the notion of entropy it became clear to me that thermodynamic entropy was merely one instance of a concept with much broader applications … I became convinced that entropy applied to social phenomena as well.”— Kenneth Bailey (2009), “Email to Libb Thims” [7]

References

1. Bailey, Kenneth D. (1990).

2. Kenneth D. Bailey (curriculum vitae) – University of California, Los Angeles.

3. Kenneth D. Bailey (faculty) – University of California, Los Angeles.

4. (a) Bailey, Kenneth D. (1983). “Sociological Entropy Theory: Towards a Statistical and Verbal Congruence.”

(b) Bailey, Kenneth D. (1984). “Beyond Functionalism: Toward a Nonequilibrium Analysis of Complex Social Systems.”

(d) Bailey, Kenneth D. (1985). “Entropy Measures of Inequality” (abstract),

(e) Bailey, Kenneth D. (1988). “Social Entropy Theory: an Overview”,

5. ibid, Bailey. (1990). Section: Thermodynamic Equilibrium and Entropy (pgs. 52-53).

6. ibid, Bailey. (1990). pgs. 158, 163, 253.

7. Bailey, Kenneth D. (2009). "Email to Libb Thims", Mar 10.

Further reading

● Bailey, Kenneth. (1991). “From Thermodynamics to Sociology: The Changing Face of Equilibrium.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Society for Systems Science, Ostersund, Sweden, June.

External links

● Kenneth D. Bailey (sociologist) – Wikipedia.