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Applying complexity theoryWhole systems approaches to criminal justice and social work$
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Aaron Pycroft and Clemens Bartollas

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447311409

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447311409.001.0001

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Complexity And The Emergence Of Social Work And Criminal Justice Programmes

Complexity And The Emergence Of Social Work And Criminal Justice Programmes

(p.79) Four Complexity And The Emergence Of Social Work And Criminal Justice Programmes
Applying complexity theory

Michael Wolf-Branigin

Policy Press

In Chapter Four, Wolf-Branigin makes the case for social work and criminal justice programmes as examples of complex adaptive systems evolving from the efforts of individuals working at the grassroots level. The chapter outlines several properties of these systems, which are to be found in positivist accounts of complexity, including being agent-based, being dynamic, being self-organising, having boundaries, using feedback and producing an emergent behaviour. It then explains these properties and presents a positivist framework for envisioning these programmes as complex systems and the various states in which they can exist. However, given the linkages between participants, treatment staff, funding sources and other key stakeholders, the chapter develops a post-positivist account of complexity based upon an understanding of the person in environment perspective and its relevance to social work and criminal justice.

Keywords:   social work, criminal justice, complex adaptive systems, positivist, post-positivist

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