Orrin Klapp nsIn hmolscience, Orrin Edgar Klapp (1915-1997) was an American sociologist noted, in sociological thermodynamics, for his 1978 general systems theory plus Shannon entropy model of "boundaried" systems, across which entropy can pass.

In 1978, Klapp, in his Opening and Closing: Strategies of Information Adaptation in Society, outlined a general systems theory mixed with Shannon-thermodynamics type theory of “entropic communication” in society. [1] Klapp presents a model of social systems as oscillating systems that can alternatively open or close their boundaries as their internal state dictates. [2] Klapp’s model was used by Larry Comeau and Leo Driedger in 1978 article “Ethnic Opening and Closing in an Open System: A Canadian Example.” [3]

Klapp reasons that entropy, rather than negentropy, can be imported into human systems and that “threats” to the system come not only from the accumulation or production of internal entropy but also from the importation of external entropy. Entropy, in Klapp’s view, is the opposite of information. Examples of entropy import include: noise, banality, signal boringness, restriction, or lack of reinforcement, among others. He reasons that by successfully opening or closing the boundaries to a system at the proper time, the social system can achieve the correct amount of information input without gaining an excessive amount of entropy. [2]

In 1975, Klapp spoke in terms of controlling boundaries in order to, among other things, restrict the entry of entropy into the system. On this view, American sociologist Kenneth Bailey reasons that the view is reversed, in that boundaries must be manipulated in order to bring energy and information or negentropy into the system, to combat the internal increase of entropy. [2] They both, to note, generally seem to derive their understanding of entropy from Claude Shannon and thus are both inept at a proper discussion of the use of entropy as a function of heat.

In 1962, Klapp was a professor of sociology at San Diego State College and in 1978 a professor of sociology at the University of Western Ontario.

1. Klapp, Orrin E. (1978). Opening and Closing: Strategies of Information Adaptation in Society (ch. 5: Entropic communication, pgs. 81-105). CUP Archive.
2. Bailey, Kenneth D. (1990). Social Entropy Theory (pg. 82-83, 155). New York: State University of New York Press.
3. Comeau, Larry R. and Driedger, Leo. (1978). “Ethnic Opening and Closing in an Open System: A Canadian Example.” Social Forces 57: 600-20.

External links
Orrin Edgar Klapp Papers (1942-1997) – Directory of Special Collections, California State University Library.
Orrin Edgar Klapp – LibraryThing.com

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