Method of Fractal Description (MFD)

Basically, it is assumed that complex network systems, as they usually exist in the fields of political institutions, processes and networks, should be described using methods of holistic thinking. This approach is then also expected to capture overall contexts and serve as a basis to draw conclusions with regard to the question. Practice shows, however, that inculcated thought patterns tend to simplify complex processes and procedures as much as possible or break them down into partial questions. However, this approach usually involves a reduction of the question’s complexity and the facts determining it to a linear (one-dimensional) view. One main challenge of political discourse analysis is the wealth of influencing parameters that need to be taken into account in order to address complex political issues. Since this overloads the imagination provided by classical thought patterns, it is helpful to use mathematical models. MFD allows a multidimensional description of complex and joined-up political questions inasmuch as a growing number of influencing parameters can be recorded.

The Method of Fractal Description (MFD) and its integration in political discourse analysis has been developed by Ulrike Reisner for three years in cooperation with Helmut Detter, a former professor for microsystems technology at the Vienna University of Technology who had the initiating idea (for further information see

In a political analysis the use of MFD is based on three steps - desk research, expert consultations, description of the question in fractal decomposition - as a basis for qualified discussion and further political analyses.

In the previous practice of applying MFD, the method of brainstorming worked well as a tool in step 3. The target of this brainstorming process is to collect a number of influencing parameters to describe the basic assumption. These influencing parameters are weighted with regard to their effect on the question, aiming at picking out the three most influential parameters. On this basis, the influencing parameters are introduced step by step into the fractal model. This method allows the description of the determining question based on three main influencing parameters defined in the first structural circle level, to be detailed in the next lower structural circle levels (see figure).

Influencing parameters have to be identified with a high degree of accuracy. The reduction of the number to three derives from the fact that the tripod represents a stable system in natural science. The self-similarity of the fractal allows the influencing parameters to always be described in more detail.