Global Governance and Public Policy

Complex Systems Approaches to Global Politics

Authors:  Scott Janzwood and Jinelle Piereder
Publication:  Oxford Bibliographies (2020)

A comprehensive annotated bibliography on the application of complexity theory in the fields of international relations and global politics. The subcategories of the literature covered in this review include: general overviews; complexity critiques of international relations theory; security studies; peace and conflict studies; critical theory; policy and governance; environment and energy governance; political economy, development, and finance; and sociology and interdisciplinary social science.

A Complex Systems Approach to the Drug War in Mexico: Resources, Violence and Order

Author:  Michael Lawrence
Publication:  Waterloo Institute for Complexity & Innovation Occasional Paper (2012)

This paper develops a complex systems analysis of the drug war in Mexico. While other accounts stress the chaotic turmoil of the conflict, this approach begins by examining the relationship between the violence and the formation of order. It explains the drug war as an integral part of the Mexican state’s incomplete governance transition from decades of patronage and authoritarianism towards free market democracy and the rule of law. It also argues that Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) are constructing nascent patterns of criminal order spanning multiple spheres of social relations. Framed this way, the paper analyzes the drug war in Mexico as a conflict between two different systems of resource extraction struggling to construct rival patterns of social order. It then draws on thermodynamics and the complex adaptive systems literature to compare the abilities of the drug trade and the Mexican state to convert available resources into favourable patterns of social organization.