Social Complexity Theory

vector drawings of major world skyscrapers


In small scale societies, a physical impairment does not come to define one’s entire social identity because the individual in small scale societies is related and connected to others in many social roles and contexts.

“The social science literature on physical disabilities suffers a curious omission in the relative lack of attention paid to a cross-cultural or historical perspective. We argue that disability is a human constant-that  is, all human societies have and have always had disabled  members.  While the presence of such individuals is a constant, culturally shared  responses  to them vary greatly  across time and social  context. ” (1)

Normal Project Examples


Jessica Scheer and Nora Groce

  • In modern complex societies, visible impairments are commonly thought to classify individual identities.
  • In small-scale societies, visible impairments are less important in classifying individuals.


  • There need to be more studies that particularly explore this point to make sure we are not participating in a romanticism of traditional societies.


  1. Scheer, J. and Groce, N. (1988), Impairment as a Human Constant: Cross-Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Variation. Journal of Social Issues, 44: 23–37. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1988.tb02046.x

Published by Sarah Quinto

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