Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The concept of a system is abstract. It can often be little more than a metaphor used to describe any complex set of parts that forms a larger whole. At its most abstract, the concept of a system is thus just a way of thinking about macrostructures in terms of the relations among their units; it analyzes objects in terms of their parts and the relations between these parts in an attempt to facilitate problem solving. This concept of a system appears in diverse academic subjects, including biology, chemistry, and engineering, as well as political theory. For example, some biologists think of human beings as a system composed of subsystems (such as the vital organs), each of which performs a process essential to the maintenance of the system as a whole. Systems theorists typically conceive of politics, and especially the state or governance, as a system composed of a series ...