Reconstructing the public sphere: AST and the observation of postmodernity

Adam Arvidsson (European University Institute, Florence, Italy, and Department of Sociology, Lund University, Sweden)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Publication date: 1 August 1997


While sociology has usually aimed at producing general accounts of the postmodern social condition, it has not been influenced by the postmodern epistemological challenge but kept its accounts within the modern episteme. Suggests that autopoietic systems theory (AST) can supply a theoretical framework in which this can be done. Based on the concept of communication, this approach can sustain a theory of postmodernity that does not require ontological foundations and in which the fundamental self‐referentiality of scientific truths is affirmed rather than hidden. As such it is able to accommodate the postmodern epistemological challenge. Based on the concept of structural coupling, such a theory would be able to retain the fundamental connection between changes between structure and “culture”, while leaving the specifics of this connection open to empirical analysis.



Arvidsson, A. (1997), "Reconstructing the public sphere: AST and the observation of postmodernity", Kybernetes, Vol. 26 No. 6/7, pp. 661-673.

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Copyright © 1997, MCB UP Limited

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