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Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 6182503, 16 pages
Research Article

Social Interaction and the City: The Effect of Space on the Reduction of Entropy

1Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), Niterói, RJ, Brazil
2Laboratory on Human-Environment Relations in Urban Systems (HERUS), Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland
3Universidade Federal de Lavras (UFLA), Lavras, MG, Brazil
4City, University of London, London, UK

Correspondence should be addressed to Vinicius M. Netto

Received 13 March 2017; Accepted 21 June 2017; Published 23 August 2017

Academic Editor: Dimitri Volchenkov

Copyright © 2017 Vinicius M. Netto et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


How can individual acts amount to coherent systems of interaction? In this paper, we attempt to answer this key question by suggesting that there is a place for cities in the way we coordinate seemingly chaotic decisions. We look into the elementary processes of social interaction 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. Examining possibilities that (i) actions rely on informational differences latent in their environments and that (ii) the city itself is an information environment to actions, 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.