Social Thermodynamics

Entropy gets a bit of a bad rap at least among geeks and Bogs. Increase in Disorder. Heat death. Inevitability of Corruption.

That’s the popularist, even freshman view of the matter. What is pumped out in service courses and media. 

But when we go to the next level and think in terms of statistical mechanics, things get better. Entropy is the number of accessible states of a system – so say the physicist. Entropy is the number of accessed (occupied) states of a system – so say the engineer. 

In practice the engineer win out since their definition is what is measurable.

Enough foreplay.

I was reading an article the other day on the merits and benefits of diversity. One of those popularist, journalistic, pseudo-management articles with only specious data and no citations. Shakespearean – “full of sound and fury..”. 

But it prompted some thought. And I came to the realization – wasn’t quite big enough to be an epiphany – that diversity is entropy.

If you’re a Repulsian then diversity is disorder which is obviously bad because the speaker is suffering from adamantine Us-Them hatred. If you’re a Democrud, then diversity is an increase in the accessible/accessed states of the population, which is obviously good because it is – no reasons given, which raises the question of whether there are reasons.

From a management standpoint, diversity is useful since it provides Us-Them friction that can be exploited for control. This is something that Repulsians assume because they usually have no idea how to establish it and Democruds denounce because they have no idea of its absence.

But other than keeping the work force roiled within and thereby less at management, is there any value to diversity? Maybe. Depends on a lot of factors. Does it make the organization more productive and/or effective? If it’s a constant funded organization does diversity make it more efficient? Do the gains offset the losses of friction? If there are “Yes”es and they are large enough in actual numbers, then diversity is beneficial.

Of course, this is only relevant among states – as in occupied – that aren’t legally regulated like skin hue and eyelid shape. If the states are legally regulated compliance is a survival issue.

Regardless of benefit or damage.

Entropy is fickle. Sometimes it’s good, other times bad. Depends on the human point of view. Because only humans have good and bad. 

Which is itself a form of entropy.

Advertisements