Definition extracted with permission from Simon, Fritz, et al, Family Process, Inc.: Language of Family Therapy: A Systemic Vocabulary and Source Book (Family Process Press Series)
Prigogine uses these terms to explain the spontaneous formation of structures in open systems. He describes how deviations from a relatively stable equilibrium lead to new organizational forms (dissipative structures) with concomitan texpenditure of energy. As applied systems by Dell and Goolishian (1981), it is random deviation from an original equilibrium that is the essential structuring factor, while non-equilibrium is the source of new order and organization, or "order through fluctuation" (Nicolis & Prigogine, 1977). Fluctuations in this sense are deviations from balanced conditions and lead to a progressive form of self-organization by means of positive feedback loops.
- Dell, P. F., Goolishian, H. A. Order through fluctuation: An evolutionary epistemology for human systems. Australian Journal of Family Therapy 2: 175-184, 1981.