City and interaction: the role of space in social organization

Abstract How can seemingly chaotic personal acts create the coherent systems of interaction that surround us? In this paper, we attempt to answer this key question by suggesting the role for cities on how we coordinate seemingly chaotic decisions. We look into these elementary processes exploring a particular concept: “social entropy”, or how social systems deal with uncertainty and unpredictability in the transition from individual actions to systems of interaction. We examine the following conditions: (i) actions rely on informational differences latent in their environments, (ii) the city itself is an information environment to actions, and we propose that (iii) space becomes a form of creating differences in the probabilities of interaction. We investigate this process through simulations of distinct material scenarios to find that space is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the reduction of entropy. Finally, we suggest that states and fluctuations of entropy are a vital part of social reproduction, and reveal a deep connection between social, informational and spatial systems.