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Abstract

Details

Individualism, Holism and the Central Dilemma of Sociological Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-038-7

Abstract

Details

The Systemic Approach in Sociology and Niklas Luhmann: Expectations, Discussions, Doubts
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-032-5

Book part
Publication date: 14 October 2010

Christian Fuchs and Wolfgang Hofkirchner

Maturana and Varela (1980, p. 78f) provided the following definition of autopoiesis: “An autopoietic machine is a machine organized (defined as a unity) as a network of

Abstract

Maturana and Varela (1980, p. 78f) provided the following definition of autopoiesis: “An autopoietic machine is a machine organized (defined as a unity) as a network of processes of production (transformation and destruction) of components that produces the components which: (i) through their interactions and transformations continuously regenerate and realize the network of processes (relations) that produced them and (ii) constitute it (the machine) as a concrete unity in the space in which they (the components) exist by specifying the topological domain of its realization as such a network.” This definition shows that for Maturana and Varela, autopoietic systems are systems that define, maintain, and reproduce themselves. The notion of machine that they employ in the definition might seem a bit misleading because we tend to think of machines as mechanistic and nonliving, but Maturana and Varela (e.g., 1987) in later publications have preferred to speak of autopoietic organizations.

Details

Advanced Series in Management
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84855-833-5

Article
Publication date: 1 March 2006

Kenneth D. Bailey

To present the contributions of sociocybernetics, particularly as developed by Felix Geyer, and to compare sociocybernetics with social entropy theory (SET).

620

Abstract

Purpose

To present the contributions of sociocybernetics, particularly as developed by Felix Geyer, and to compare sociocybernetics with social entropy theory (SET).

Design/methodology/approach

This paper first outlines the problems with earlier approaches, and then briefly discusses the four approaches constituting the “new” social systems theory: sociocybernetics, social‐autopoiesis theory, living systems theory (LST), and SET. Next the six chief contributions of sociocybernetics are discussed. Then sociocybernetics is compared with SET. The paper ends with a brief comparison of Geyer's sociocybernetics with the other two new approaches, social autopoiesis and LST.

Findings

Sociocybernetics is found to be a context‐specific, observer‐dependent approach that relies heavily on second‐order cybernetics. The comparison of sociocybernetics with SET also finds that the latter complements the former in valuable ways. Geyer's approach to sociocybernetics is also found to be compatible with both social autopoiesis and LST.

Practical implications

A very useful source of information for scholars interested in the comparative analysis of the new socialsystems theory.

Originality/value

This paper provides the first comparison of sociocybernetics with the other new socialsystems theories – SET, social autopoiesis, and LST. It clearly shows the value of Geyer's approach to sociocybernetics. It is valuable to all scholars interested in modern socialsystems theory. Sociocybernetics will be recognized as one of the great theoretical contributions of twentieth century sociology. It will also be forever linked with the names of its principal founders, Geyer and van der Zouwen. The numerous contributions of sociocybernetics are all the more impressive when it is recognized that they were made against a backdrop of widespread misunderstanding, mistrust, and outright rejection of its precursor approaches in social systems theory.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 35 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Abstract

Details

The Systemic Approach in Sociology and Niklas Luhmann: Expectations, Discussions, Doubts
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-032-5

Article
Publication date: 1 August 1997

Kenneth D. Bailey

A number of entropy models of social systems have been developed recently. Unfortunately, the complementarity of these approaches remains largely unanalysed, due to…

1043

Abstract

A number of entropy models of social systems have been developed recently. Unfortunately, the complementarity of these approaches remains largely unanalysed, due to terminological and conceptual differences among them. There is an urgent need for a meta‐theoretical framework that will facilitate the analysis and comparison of all social entropy models. System entropy analysis (SEA), as presented here, is designed to fill this need. It is a second‐order, meta‐analytic tool which analyses each approach in terms of its major concepts, its basic units of analysis, its definition and measurement of entropy, and its specification of microstates and macrostates. First discusses the need for SEA, and then specifies its structure. Concludes with an application of SEA to the comparison and integration of three entropy approaches: synergetics, complexity theory and social entropy theory (SET).

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 26 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 28 October 2019

Vladislav Valentinov and Anna Hajdu

The stakeholder theory encompasses instrumental and normative varieties whose mutual relationship remains unclear and exhibits a classic tension between rational…

1668

Abstract

Purpose

The stakeholder theory encompasses instrumental and normative varieties whose mutual relationship remains unclear and exhibits a classic tension between rational self-interest and moral motivation. The purpose of this paper is to develop a strategy for navigating this tension.

Design/methodology/approach

Niklas Luhmann’s social systems theory is concerned with the limited ability of social systems to codify, and be receptive to, the complexity of the environment. Drawing on this theory, the paper juxtaposes the codification problems of two types of social systems: the for-profit firm and the economic function system.

Findings

This juxtaposition allows to identify four firm behavior patterns, two of which can be aligned with instrumental and normative stakeholder theories. If the codification capacity of the economic function system is assumed to be sufficient, the codification problems of the for-profit firm are shown to specify the range of applicability of the instrumental stakeholder theory. Dropping the above assumption is shown to specify the range of applicability of the normative stakeholder theory.

Originality/value

The argument offers a fresh way of understanding the institutional economics foundations of the stakeholder theory. Given that the systems-theoretic idea of codification reflects the functioning of the real-world institutions, the argument shows that both instrumental and normative stakeholder theories reflect the institutional texture of the modern society in distinct but equally legitimate ways.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 34 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 June 1995

Felix Geyer

Summarizes some of the important concepts and developments in cybernetics and general systems theory, especially during the last two decades. Shows how they can indeed be…

Abstract

Summarizes some of the important concepts and developments in cybernetics and general systems theory, especially during the last two decades. Shows how they can indeed be a challenge to sociological thinking. Cybernetics is used here as an umbrella term for a great variety of related disciplines: general systems theory, information theory, system dynamics, dynamic systems theory, including catastrophe theory, chaos theory. Also considers the emerging “science of complexity”, which includes neural networks, artificial intelligence and artificial life, and discusses the methodological drawbacks of second‐order cybernetics.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 24 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 March 1997

Susanne Holmström

To get beneath the surface of the focal concepts of public relations practice today, the major sociological theories of Jürgen Habermas and Niklas Luhmann have been…

Abstract

To get beneath the surface of the focal concepts of public relations practice today, the major sociological theories of Jürgen Habermas and Niklas Luhmann have been fruitful as frames of interpretation. Two paradigms for reflection on the public relations phenomenon have been developed on their theories: the inter‐subjective and the social systemic public relations paradigms. These paradigms indicate fundamentally different interpretations of the concepts of conflict and social responsibility, with crucial consequences for the role of public relations in today's social order. Each perspective has its blind spots but the switching of perspectives allows us to see more. Habermas's theories make it possible to disclose the ideal perception which seems to prevail in the self‐understanding of public relations practice while, at the same time, setting out normative ideals for the practice. The ideal in the inter‐subjective paradigm is to re‐establish the system's coupling to the lifeworld. The public relations practitioner must act as an individual through communicative action. Public relations is a matter of ethical issues in a normative perspective. We might also call this the ethical, communicative or normative paradigm of public relations. The keyword is legitimation in post‐conventional discourse society. Luhmann's theories make it possible to disclose the social systemic mechanisms that can be viewed as the framework for public relations practice, and to set out functional conditions for that practice. The functions of the social systemic paradigm are to assist in maintaining the boundaries of the organisation system through strategic reflection and to assist in ensuring that society's differentiated system logics can function autonomously because they also understand how to function together. The sphere of action of the public relations practitioner is defined by the social systems. Public relations is a matter of functional issues in a cognitive perspective. We might also call this the functional, reflective or cognitive paradigm of public relations. The keyword is public trust in the context‐regulated society. This paper is based on a thesis by the author entitled: ‘The Inter‐subjective and the Social Systemic Public Relations Paradigms’, University of Roskilde, April 1996, also to be published in English.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 2 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 March 2022

Klaus Brønd Laursen, Gorm Harste and Steffen Roth

The present article pertains to recent advances in social systems theoretical analyses of moral communication.

Abstract

Purpose

The present article pertains to recent advances in social systems theoretical analyses of moral communication.

Design/methodology/approach

An introduction to basic concepts and requirements for systems-theoretical approaches to morality and communication is provided, as is an introduction to 14 contributions to a pertinent special issue of Kybernetes.

Findings

The review of these 14 cases suggests that social systems theory enables researchers to study moral communication without necessarily performing it.

Originality/value

This article reappraises and challenges Niklas Luhmann's occasionally distanced attitude to morality, which has occasionally been understood as a form of moral communication itself.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 51 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

Keywords

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