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The communication of expectations and individual understanding: Redundancy as reduction of uncertainty, and the processing of meaning

Loet Leydesdorff (Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Mark William Johnson (Institute of Educational Cybernetics, University of Bolton, Bolton, UK)
Inga A. Ivanova (School of Business and Public Administration, Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 3 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to present the case for an analysis of communication at the supra-individual level as a means of rendering the understanding of learning and acting tractable. The paper introduces a method of analysis of redundancy to achieve this.


The paper argues for a supra-individual approach to acting, learning, and understanding against focusing on an individual or quasi-transcendental “observer”. The argument is outlined in four steps: first, articulation of the dynamics of the communication system; second, consideration of the redundancies of expectations within communication; third, the computation of anticipation which enables the authors to model meaning processing; and fourth the feedback of meaning processing on information processing can be measured as redundancy. Anticipated future states can reflexively drive reconstructions in meaning-processing systems.

Research limitations/implications

The social system can be considered as a symbolic order of coordination mechanisms. Reflexive agency can access this order and partake in it. However, expectations and their structures do not “exist”, but remain uncertain with the status of hypotheses. Historical embodiment in intentional action is structurally coupled to the order of expectations. The historical instantiations condition and enable the further development of the expectations as a retention mechanism.


The modelling and measurement of meaning processing in terms of inversion of the arrow of time and the generation of redundancy provide extensions to the mathematical theory of communication.



Leydesdorff, L., Johnson, M.W. and Ivanova, I.A. (2014), "The communication of expectations and individual understanding: Redundancy as reduction of uncertainty, and the processing of meaning", Kybernetes, Vol. 43 No. 9/10, pp. 1362-1371.



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