Sunday, December 22, 2002

why luhmann's cannot be use as spatiosocial concept this is from randall whitaker site

Luhmann redefined social systems as being realized in a domain of 'communications'. In other words, the constituent elements of the social system are communications, and the required conditions for autopoiesis are met in terms of such communications. This has the advantage of describing the system in terms of its operational characteristics, independent from the specific participants in that system at any given time. Luhmann's approach is radical in the sense that it treats social systems solely in terms of 'communications', making the human participants peripheral components at most. His ideas are most persuasive in his specific application of the principles to the field of law (cf. Teubner, 1988), where highly-structured 'communications' are more easily considered as a network unto themselves than is the case for most enterprises.

Luhmann's approach resembles conventional organizational studies in its focus on the enterprise as the primary object of concern. However, his ideas are problematical with respect to autopoietic theory itself. For example, a system can be considered autopoietic to the extent it realizes the necessary relations in a given space. Luhmann has not provided a comprehensive definition of the space in which his 'communications' are manifested. The most common informal reaction to Luhmann's approach is apprehension about his having effectively filtered humans out of his model. Mingers (1994) discusses these and a number of other problems with Luhmann's approach. The papers in Teubner (1988) provide an extended debate over Luhmann's ideas with specific regard to law as an autopoietic system.

Hejl approach is more realistic to my problem

Hejl then goes on to address the problem in a manner more analogous to autopoietic theory's phenomenological aspects. He defines social domains as being generated through "...a process of mutual interactions and hence modulation which results in a partial parallelization of the interacting systems." (1984, p. 68) This is basically a variation on consensual domains invoking 'parallelization' rather than 'mutual orientation'. What others had viewed as a unit social system, Hejl defined as an instantiation of a social domain -- "...a group of living systems which are characterized by a parallelization of one or several of their cognitive states and which interact with respect to these cognitive states." (Op.cit., p. 70)

In Hejl's view, social systems are defined in terms of an intersection between their composite identity and the individual participants. He characterizes such phenomena as syn-referential, i.e.:

"...constituted by components, i.e., living systems, that interact with respect to a social domain. Thus the components of a syn-referential system are necessarily individual living systems, but they are components only inasmuch as they modulate one another's parallelized states through their interactions in an operationally closed way." (1984, p. 75)

Syn-referentiality allows a view of interaction from an autopoietic perspective which accounts for social domains in a manner fundamentally different from that of traditional sociological approaches such as structuralism (e.g., Talcott Parsons) or functionalism (e.g., Luhmann). Although Hejl's analysis invokes some novel or variant conceptualizations, it should be clear that he is very consistent with Maturana and Varela's statements on social systems.