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Complexity theory has its earliest origins in studies of self-organization within genetic and other biological systems, and in parallel developments elsewhere in the natural sciences. More recently still, complexity theory has begun to impact thinking in the social sciences and social theory. Philisophically, there are still strong links with both (post-) structuralist and phenomenological traditions, while in terms of social theory, complexity theory has tended to be treated as a species of systems theory, and hence linked to the normative-functionalist projects of Durkheim and Parsons.
However, more recent work on the social science of complexity has stressed how complexity theory can transcend the status inherent in classical functionalist thinking about the social order, by stressing the fluid, heterogeneous, unpredictable and increasingly global ordering of the social world.