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Multilevel systems and policy

Theory and Applications

Professor Jeffrey Johnson, Professor Joyce Fortune and Dr Jane Bromley

Making multilevel systems well-defined is essential for the implementation of computer models to investigate the multilevel consequences of policy. This chapter shows that systems thinking can provide practical guidance to those building models of complex multilevel social systems in order to inform policymaking. Part–whole aggregation and taxonomic aggregation are described as methods of representing multilevel structure, and it is shown how they are interleaved in the construction of vocabulary to describe multilevel systems. This enables complex nested structures to be represented as a kind of backcloth that supports patterns of aggregate and disaggregate numbers that describe the day-to-day traffic of people, resources and responsibility that are essential for systems to function.