A system is a collection made up of the following entities:
- System elements
- Relationship of system elements
- Attributes (fixed and dynamic) of elements and relationship
Both attributes and relationship are associated with variables (quantifiable variables and non-numerical). The system state at any time is the set of values held by the variables at that time. Any system has emergent properties that are possessed by none of its parts; each part has properties not possessed by the whole.
Social systems or social structure in general refer to entities or groups in definite relation to each other, to relatively enduring patterns of behavior and relationship within social systems, or to social institutions and norms becoming embedded into social systems in such a way that they shape the behavior of actors.
Complexity according to Schoderbek is a property of a system when examined from non-quantitative viewpoint is the product of the interaction of four main aspects:
- The number of elements; number of sub-systems contained in a system
- Interactions between elements ; richness of the connectivity between these elements
- Attributes elements and interactions; nature and features
- Degree of organization; the extent that which the interactions and attributes are guided by predefined rules.