SOCIOCYBERNETICS - THE FUTURE OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
- Society from Ancient Greece to Cyberspace and Beyond -
Corfu, Greece, June 30-July 5, 2003
|PARTICIPANTS AND ABSTRACTS, by alphabetical order
1. JUAN MIGUEL AGUADO - The technological mediation of experience: a systemic approach to media and contemporary culture
The role of media in configuring contemporary culture and societies has been as much unquestioned as trivialised. The approach to media as a cognitive device seems to be in the very foundations of a modern sociological paradox: the general consideration of media as a key contemporary sociological phenomenon and, simultaneously, the lack of a sociological perspective that puts media phenomena in its very conceptual nucleus (Thompson, 1999). The general scheme that shapes cognitive approach outline media as perception improving technology, on the side of individual perspective, and as an information gathering device, on the side of system dynamics. The cognitive approach builds its theoretical proposal on the assumption of information as observational concept under the epistemological premises of first-order sociocybernetics, focusing as such on semantic relevance and informational media function.
Having in mind Luhmanns proposal and the background debate on medias role in shaping culture and social interactions we shall pose the conceptual frame of technological mediation of experience as a possible pathway to consider media phenomena in a crucial place to understand contemporary social dynamics. The endogenous and recursive nature of media operations and their permanent correlation to individuals and groups in terms of identity (or identification) set out a structural drift of media system and individuals that tends not only to duplicate but also to replace social standard interactions.
As far as media system operate on the basis of the simulation (and ultimately, replacement) of individual system operations, experience arises as the observational concept that allows drawing an accurate description of media/individual structural drift. In conventional terms, media operation is much wider than the mere cognitive or informational mediation among individuals or social subjects. Media system configures and reproduces the social conditions of experience in the basis of which identification and interaction are materialized.
2. JOSÉ A. AMOZURRUTIA - A computer model for Luhmann`s key concepts.
In this paper we propose a general model to construct a second order system that has to be operating in a computer as a complement part of agents in an organization. The model proposes representations of concepts in terms of gradients for operational closure, structural coupling and autopoiesis.
Neural Networks are essential for the model to representing the elements/relations and the structures/processes in the system . Inside each element or node we consider functions to solve couplings with environment by means of fuzzy logic. In order to model reflexivity we propose different algorithms for conditional chains like expert systems- and other elements to construct decision making in the system.
Methodology elements are proposed to construct the code, functions, structures and processes required to establish systems self-reference and hetero-reference. This methodology requires further attention because as it deals with trial and error problems to get dynamic stability, it has to look for establishing communications able to break down the systemss code and system couplings.
In Latin American countries we should pay more attention for implanting systems of a reflexive tool in an organization. We should afford methodology specially on several topics constructing Luhmanians systems. In order to expand the proposed model based on Luhmanns theory, I discus several issues from Activity Theory and Distributed Congition .
My claim is to discus Luhmannians key concepts that stretch the gap between theory and implementation of some of his principles into a system methodology. We explore de challenges to bring down into a computer system the main concepts and how reflexivity process may be achieved in order to enrich sociocybernetics perspectives and increase its intervention in society.
3. KLAUS E. ANDERS - Autopoietic Systems in the Family
The family as a place where parents interact in order to maintain this unity and to develop it further, can be considered a prototype of a self-preserving and self-organizing system. Concurrently, the members of families may also be perceived as such systems. From a social position various objectives are ascribed to these systems. These expectations sometimes contrast with the actual objectives of the family and its members. Every human being seeks to realize his concept of a good life and acts accordingly.
The increasing number of conflicts in families, which have led to a sharp rise in the number of separations and divorces in capitalist societies shows that the defense efforts undertaken by the family system are frequently not equal to the forces which impact the family from outside; hence, in this sense a social continuous balance can hardly be achieved. With this theoretical framework a first analysis is to be attempted to find out whether there are functional equivalents for the conventional type of family or if it is necessary to maintain and strengthen this type of family.
4. KENNETH D. BAILEY - Insider Coding: Congruence in the Theories of Luhmann and Miller
The argument can be made that while the insider/outsider dichotomy is one of the basic dichotomies in social research, it remains logically unsound, and has not been properly analyzed. A dichotomy that is so widely used should be examined in detail to ensure that its logical foundation is sound, before it is centrally incorporated into social-systems theory. This dichotomy fails the two most basic tests for classificatory adequacythe requirements that an adequate classification scheme must be simultaneously mutually exclusive and exhaustive. The insider/outsider dichotomy remains so vulnerable to criticism that sociocyberneticists should not continue to rely upon it, as they have in the past, unless further analysis is done to shore up both the dichotomys logical and empirical adequacy, including the heterogeneous residual nature of the outsider (observer) category.
Fortunately, the tools for such an analysis exist in the seminal work of both Niklas Luhmann and James Grier Miller. Both have worked extensively on the problem of insider coding. These two approaches are very different, but fortunately are also very compatible and congruent. This paper will combine these two approaches in an attempt to strengthen the critical insider/outsider dichotomy, and to make it more useful in sociocybernetics. Of particular interest in Millers approach are his concepts of the internal encoder and decoder, as well as the channel and net, decider, input transducer and output transducer. Of particular interest in Luhmanns approach are his general discussion of the role of binary coding in the social system, as well as his discussion of the problems of tautology and paradox that originate with binary coding, and how these can be resolved. These two approaches are combined to offer new insights into the vexing conundrum posed by the insider/outsider distinction.
5. SØREN BRIER - The Lomborg case viewed in the light of Luhmanns theory of the generalized media and the Agora concept
Why does the Lomborg debate about scientific the methodological and ethical standards demanded for debate books in the environmental sciences cause such commotion in the media, politics and among the sciences globally? Not only Danish media editors, scholars and scientists have thrown themselves into a debate but the participation has been global. The present article will analyze the case by viewing science, politics, economics, religion and the big news media through Luhmann theory of generalized media combined with the new concept of the Agora.
The international media platform for public debate has been named the Agora after the ancient marketplace of Athens, with its colonnades where philosophers often came to discuss their theories with other men representing the old traditions, religious and political opinions. In the modern Agora of the mass media we can witness the competition, discussion and fight between people representing the various knowledge types from the different media such as science, art, politics and economics. The interactions between these media in the Agora provided by the mass media are the pivot, around which the modern democratic knowledge society spins. A systems view on these interactions seems necessary if we want to develop a civilized society where right is might and not the other way around. A deeper understanding of the social nature of the scientific knowledge and how not violate it in politics and economically influenced debates in the media seem necessary.
6. HANNA BROBERG, ALEXANDRA PETRAKOU, PENG ZHANG & PÉTER RÉVAY -A Systematic Approach To Activity Theory In Practice
The purpose of this paper is to integrate social psychology and systems thinking by expanding Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) with Activity Theory (AT). The paper consists of three parts. In the first part, AT is introduced with its triangle model. In the second part, Checklands SSM and its seven stages in context with AT is discussed. The third part consists of a description of the case study where the home care in Sweden is analyzed.
Problems in the health care system are always very complex and Information Technology is usually considered to be a part of the solution. Our interest for research is in the area of elderly care, which consists of both health care and service efforts. These efforts are at some counties divided between two parties, municipality and county council. This implies a need for cooperation, communication and coordination. When this fails it affects the whole system. The problem situation must be seen as a holistic system problem but it is also essential to consider the individuals involved in the two systems and their socio-psychological environment.
SSM, as a general systems methodology, puts its emphasis on the information processing and provides a methodology for solving the soft situations. AT, on the other hand, provides a way for understanding the human activities in their context. With this perspective, we expanded SSM by integrating AT from two points. In stage 3, we use the six components of AT as a complement to the root definitions, CATWOE , given by Checkland. CATWOE provides comprehensive definitions about the systems developmental variables, whereas the components in the AT model further focuses on the socio-psychological factors. In stage 4, we use the triangle model of AT as the basic element to build up a conceptual model. The focus of this paper is on the possibilities of combining SSM with AT, which resulted in a satisfying and reasonably effective method to analyze the home care service .
Keywords: Soft Systems Methodology; Activity Theory; Home Care Service.
7. EVA BUCHINGER - Innovation Policy as a Governance Problem: Systemic and Cybernetic Principles
Traditionally, the justification for technology policy has been the market failure argument. Since the early nineties, system approaches provide another rationale of policy intervention. If the total technological performance depends not only on the performance of single actors like firms, universities, funds etc., but on the overall performance of the innovation system, policy measures to prevent/remove system failures are appropriate.
For the identification of system failures and, beforehand, the description of innovation networks, three basic categories of the social system theory (N. Luhmann) can be used: system (technical, psychic, organizational, societal, interaction), autopoiese (operational closure) and coupling (structural, causal, loose). Applying these categories, a first hypothesis is: The effectiveness of political governance of innovation depends on the ability of policy makers to cope with the autopoietic nature of the addressees (systems) and the existence of intersystem couplings. Adding principles of first-order and second-order cybernetics, questions like the following are arising: Is Ashbys law of requisite variety of significant relevance for political governance of innovation? What are the implications for policy makers if they perceive themselves not as an independent observer of innovation processes but as part of them?
The aim of this research is the application of existing scientific systemic and cybernetic knowledge to real world problems - in this particular case to innovation policy - and to formulate, if possible, a few robust navigation principles for the political governance of innovation.
8. ARNE COLLEN - In and about conversation with sociocybernetics and related points of view.
It is through conversation that so much of our human activity occurs and depends. Conversation brings persons into sociocybernetic relation. Nothing could be more fundamental to our understanding of human beings and being human. To be conscious in conversation is to be present beyond its contents to its processes, flows, directions, designs, and humanness. Conscious conversation brings to personal consciousness, and---if we choose to convey---public consciousness, the sociocybernetics of human communication and interaction. Need conversation be designed, consciously engaged, disciplined, and controlled? What might be crucial knowledge of conversation we may have at the local level that we may advantageously apply in more collective bodies of influence to global levels? These are some of the questions that arise when we consider the sociocybernetics and systemics of conversation, its relevance to current affairs, and its applications to a shrinking globe. This presentation discusses and illustrates some fundamental principles and concepts of sociocybernetics, systemics, and systems thinking in terms of the place and pervasiveness of human conversation. This contribution to the conference is to consist of two parts. The first half is to be a presentation on the nature of conversation, as a hallmark of the human condition, from the points of view known as conversation design, sociocybernetics, and systemics. Second, making select use of the focus group research tradition, the audience is to engage in conversation on connecting the first half to the conference theme. In particular, the conversation is to bring out in demonstrative fashion various fundamentals of sociocybernetics of interest to the audience.
9. COR VAN DIJKUM - What is Sociocybernetics? Empirical Research as a Bridge between Sociocybernetic Practice and Sociocybernetic Theory
There is a gap between the practice and theory of sociocybernetics. Still, sociocybernetic theory and practice can be combined in the rational framework of science, may it not be in short time, than certainly in the long run. The rationality of that framework is to be sought in the ideas that: (1) theory can be confronted by practice, particularly by the empirical facts of that practice; (2) and the observed facts are framed by the theory.
In this enterprise science operates with natural language as well as artificial languages. Language elements of the social sciences are necessary to understand and handle the social world, especially when it comes to the (problems of) modern social world. For that challenge the scientific dialogue between sociocybernetic theory and practice is essential. Watching a leading theoretical discourse, and missing a match between possible observations from this discourse and factual notes of practice, one should focus on an essential aspect of science, that is one should construct a bridge between theory and practice by doing empirical research.
Most of the theoretical concepts and reasoning of sociocyberneticians can be understood in the framework of the science of complexity , and one can observe that from this framework some social researchers construct a bridge between theory and practice. Therefore a methodological question is put forwards: by doing empirical research, what knowledge, logic, methods and models can be used to construct a bridge between the theory and practice of sociocybernetics?
10. FELIX GEYER "Continental Drift" The Causes And Potential Consequences Of American Unilateralism
Some causes and probable consequences of present US administration's foreign policy are analyzed. Military aspects: an if necessary militarily enforced Pax Americana . Supporting theory : a neo-conservative version of world systems theory cum dependencia theory: "disconnectedness defines danger"; i.e., world can be divided in Core (heavily interacting developed world), Gap (disconnected states with low network connectivity, like presumably Iraq), and in-between Seam States (transmitting several problems: like al_Qaeda, drugs, etc. from Gap to Core). Aims of US foreign policy: shrink the gap, seal off borders between seam states and core.
Although undeniably a partially realistic systemic world view, it considers only the Core as the real world system, and the rest of the world as relatively non-systemic, or of lower systemic order, and therefore dangerous. This contrasts with many perhaps more idealistic theories (world systems theory) which consider the world as a whole as a system.
Systemic disadvantages of present-day US foreign policy:
1) Insensitivity to feedback, from abroad AND from within: present "unilateralist" US administration neglected world opinion in the UN and elsewhere, and made US immensely unpopular, with expected negative long-term consequences for US itself (economic and cultural relations), for systemic equilibrium within "core states" (US vs. Europe), and for stability in the "seam states"
2) Misinformation and manipulation: US administration gets away with undemocratic measures, manipulates docile US media, and misinforms American public, masking extreme neo-conservative views. Growing gap between US administration and informed part of the US population (incl. many Republicans), resulting in a less open society: stifling of dissent, extremely closed and leak-proof government, aggressive reactions to any criticism from outside, thus relatively misinformed and closed to change.
11. EMILIO GONZÁLEZ-DÍAZ - Paradox, Time and De-Paradoxicalization in Luhmann: No Easy Way Out.
This paper explores Luhmanns treatment of the relation between paradox de-paradoxication and time in his theoretical exploration of science. I try to think through the re-solution of paradox through time in the process of what Luhmann calls de-paradoxication. Attention will be given to Luhmanns treatment of the paradox of cognition (or knowledge). This can be expressed as: Knowledge of the world, and hence science, is impossible because neither social nor psychic system have access to the world, and any notion they may form of the environment depends on their internal organization. Yet science constantly produces more knowledge of the world in its process of structural coupling with the environment.
In the philosophical tradition paradox is an obstacle to the continuation of discourse or thought. It refers to an event or enunciation which negates at least one the rules of logic (or reasoning). There are a number of famous paradoxes. One way of expressing its general form could be A is (not) equal to A. One of the most frequently challenged rules is probably this interdiction of a proposition and its negation being true at the same time. What interests me here is the twist which paradox takes in Luhmanns theory. Instead of treating paradox as an anomaly or as a logical impossibility which threatens the continuation of thought or argument, he prefers to recast it as a necessary and inevitable component of the autopoiesis of self-referential systems. For him, paradox is a problem which the system must solve in order to continue its autopoiesis.
12. GUOHUA, BAI - Globalization through Feedback of Social Activities
Effort to integrate sociology and cybernetics possesses as long a history as social science and systems science. Early in1950s, Churchman proposed the essential integration of the
cybernetics and sociology, and warned of the risk of the two becoming separated:
The psychologist and social scientist are aware of the complexities of phenomena in their own field and may look upon the metaphors and analogies of the cyberneticians with skepticism. The real danger is the complete loss of integration which at the present time seems essential in the study of purposive behaviour. (p33)
After a half-century the integration proposed by Churchman is now well recognised by both social science and cybernetics, e.g., sociocybernetics. This paper integrates the socio-psychological Activity Theory and feedback principle based on Luhmanns conceptual work. The result of this integration is a sociocybernetic model that can be applied as an interpretive tool for understanding various social problems.
In the first part of the paper, Luhmanns social autopoietic theory in terms of self-reference, autopoiesis, communication, and differentiated function systems is introduced as basic terminology and ontology for model construction. The concept self-reference is discussed in the context of cybernetic intrinsic feedback, extrinsic feedback and purposeful study based on Churchmans category of intensive function, extensive function, and purpose. The concepts of autopoiesis, communication, and differentiated social functions are discussed in relation to the socio-psychological theory Activity Theory. It is proposed that the fundamental category of activity should be applied as the autopoietic unit (instead of communication proposed by Luhmann) for various social studies. Based on the theoretical conceptual work of Luhmann and the basic units identified by the activity theory, a sociocybernetic model is structured according to feedback principle. In the last, the model is applied in explaining and interpreting some social problems, such as IT bubble viewed from the model as economic production-consumption (positive) feedback, law of weapon control viewed as social political-economical (double-loop) interactions, war against terrorism as globalisation of social integration (autopoietic process).
Keywords: Sociocybernetics; Feedback; Activity; Communication; Autopoiesis.
13. BERND R. HORNUNG - Constructing Sociology From First Order Cybernetics - Basic Concepts for Analyzing Information Society -
The paper defines sociocybernetics as Systems Science in Sociology. In an attempt to construct sociology from basic concepts, the paper is based on First Order Cybernetics, with the intention to introduce the complications of Second Order Cybernetics in a later step.
Systems Science, or more narrowly, First Order Cybernetics, will be understood according to Wiener´s definition as the science of steering and control in the animal and the machine, including human beings and natural machines. The construction of sociology from cybernetics will be based on the fundamental idea, elaborated elsewhere, that the world consists at an elementary level of events or processes which are of two kinds, energetical/material and informational. This idea can be found (without theoretical justification) already in the simulation studies of Jay W. Forrester.
On this background a series of basic cybernetic concepts will be presented and developed, starting with feedback or circular causality as the basic cybernetic process. It will be argued that combinations of feedback loops constitute structures which give rise to a set of fundamental systems theoretical concepts, i.e. wholeness and system boundary, system hierarchy, positive and negative feedback loops. To deal with information processing systems (IPS), e.g. in the context of information society, a few more concepts have to be added.
On the sociological side, the paper will be based on an introductory book on basic concepts of sociology, trying to systematize those sociological concepts in the context of sociocybernetic theory by means of the cybernetic concepts presented and developed at the beginning of the paper.
Key Words: Information Society, First Order Cybernetics, Sociological Theory, IT, Social Systems
14. CECILE LAFONTAINE - Cybernetics and Human Science: Towards the Origins of Informational Representation of the Subject
This conference seeks to relate the influence cybernetics has on the human science. Structuralism, systemism and theories related to the Postmodern movement are progressively analyzed using concepts that have grown out of the cybernetics paradigm (information, feed-back, entropy, complexity, etc.). The goal of this conference is to show that many prominent theoretical approaches used in the contemporary human sciences carry with them a representation of subjectivity and social link contigous with the informational model. Promulgate by cybernetics, the informational model implies, at the representational level, that there is an erasure of frontiers between human, animal and machine from which « being » are hierarchically classified according to their capacity to process complex information. While retracing the intellectual history of cybernetics paradigm, this thesis conclued with an analysis of the discours that has accompanied the emergence of the Internet and cyberspace. This shows how the main thems of the cybernetics paradigm are actually captured and radicalized in a globalizig representation of the world and out of this, a spiritualizing evolutionism emerges.
15. CHAIME MARCUELLO SERVÓS - Understanding Sociocybernetics and its usefulness in applied social research: Social audit, transparence and accountability.
Nowadays nobody has the last answer to the question what is Sociocybernetics. However, we find some definitions and papers, which are written inside that we could call "Sociocybernetics paradigm". The purpose of this paper is to explain a point of view about Sociocybernetics.
We focus in the applied and empirical side of the Sociocybernetics paradigm, because we arrived to this approach in Social Sciences looking for a way to deal with complexity and complex issues of social investigation. In our case, we started on studying the social efficiency of Non-Profit Organizations, and after building a social audit tool kit to use in the daily life of NPOs and Public Administration. Now, we are involved in conceptualizing and researching the transparence and accountability in profit and non-profit entities. We should deal with a complex collection of actors and relationships in different levels of the social system. Afterwards, we would like to offer a method even a methodology to describe and to valuate some ways to be and to show the social responsibility of organizations.
The paper has five parts. First, it is a general introduction to the issues of this study. Second, we consider some definitions and uses of the term "Sociocybernetics". Third, we explain the practical problems of researching in social audit ans social responsibility. Four, we propose a framework from Sociocybernetics paradigm, to analyze and to operationalize transparence and accountability in profit and non-profit entities. Five we conclude with a retour to the concept of Sociocybernetics.
KEYWORDS: Sociocybernetics, Applied Social Research, Social Audit, Accountability
16. TATIANA A. MEDVEDEVA & STUART A. UMPLEBY - Adding A Dimension to the Philosophy of Science with an Illustration from Economics
Second order cybernetics has called attention to the need to pay attention to the observer. Scientists should not assume that all observers will interpret experiments in the same way. Consequently, second order cybernetics has added to the philosophy of science the dimension of "amount of attention paid to the observer."
We believe an additional dimension should be added, at least in the case of the social sciences -- the characteristics of the society in which a theory is applied. Social science theories are created at least in part as a way of changing or influencing the evolution of social systems. However, the ways that societies transform themselves are not the same. Cultures and legal systems differ. Hence, descriptions of needed changes, even social science theories, may need to be different for different societies. As an example we consider the use of macro-economics in the republics of the former Soviet Union, republics that did not have a tradition of entrepreneurship or well-developed mediating institutions, including the institutions of civil society.
Adding these two dimensions to the philosophy of science changes the metaphor underlying the philosophy of science. Most work in the philosophy of science assumes that the purpose of science is to create accurate descriptions of phenomena. This can be called the photograph metaphor of science theories are photographs or descriptions of the way the world works. However, a communication metaphor of the philosophy of science would be consistent with adding the two dimensions: amount of attention paid to the observer and "amount of attention paid to the receiving society."
17. DARIO MENANTEAU-HORTA AND ALICIA MENANTEAU-FELLING.- Exploring Linkages between Sociocybernetics and Social Development Imperatives
Although sociological knowledge cannot be conceived separate from its application and impact on the social system, some approaches of the discipline have managed to stay away from serving the practical needs of social development. Sociocybernetics, however, emerges as the best theoretical and practical endeavor to deal with the analysis of complex social systems and contribute to the solution of social problems.
This paper examines the following items:
l. The social and organizational implications of the 1986 U.N. Declaration of the Rights to Development.
2. The marginal role of Sociology in relation to development needs and issues. The sociological debate between theory and practice, between pure and applied research has been largely responsible in reducing the amount and quality of usable knowledge badly needed in social development strategies.
3. The linkages between sociocybernetics and development imperatives for the 21st century. The scientific capacity found in the cybernetic tradition of Bertalanffy, Ashby , Wiener , Luhmann , Beer, and others permits us to approach social and organizational problems from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Also, the contributions made by Buckley, Bailey, Geyer, and a number of scholars studying modern systems theory seek an adequate balance between sociological theory and the concrete consequences of individual and organizational decisions.
Social processes and systems problems are far from being static. Social problem solving may well be considered an integral part of system analysis, the central objective of sociocybernetics.
18. CZESLAW MESJASZ - Reflexivity: The Main Challenge of Management Theory and Practice in Information Society
The concept of reflexivity is frequently applied ideas in social sciences. In general terms reflexivity is regarded as a specific relation between action and thought. Reflexivity differs from self-reference treated as a property of statements. Increasing role of reflexivity in practice and theory of management is resulting from the fact that in the "Information Society" more attention is paid to intangible aspects of organisations - learning processes, knowledge, intellectual capital. In management theory this process is accompanied by decreasing role of classical "external" analogies and metaphors - machine or biological system. Object of description (organisation) cannot be treated as external to the observer - "soft systems thinking", or social autopoiesis. In the "Information Society", which can be characterised by increasing capabilities of mapping, external environment in memories of humans and computers, the process of "going into metaphor" is constantly accelerating. In economic theory and in management theory it is reflected in a new law of increasing returns of intellectual capital. These processes are giving rise to the basic question: How deeply must be the process of human thinking studied to understand organisation of human systems - systems of conscious elements (whatever the latter can mean)? The aim of the paper is to study how management theory and practice are changing under the impact of the Information Society. A hypothesis is presented that increasing significance of intangible aspects of economic activity is the key feature of the Information Society. Subsequently, the consequences of this hypothesis are analysed.
19. MATJAZ MULEJ, ZDENKA ZENKO, Z. and VOJKO POTOCAN - Sociocybernetics, what do we think it is?
Keywords: Bertalanffy, cybernetics, Dialectical Systems Theory, requisite holism, sociocybernetics, systems thinking, systems theory.
We see no shared definition of sociocybernetics. Cybernetics originally surfaced on an interdisciplinary basis. They used system to denote their dealing with complex/ complicated features as wholes rather than one-sidedly.
Cybernetics helps humans control their own life by dealing with features being complex, open, dynamic, impacted/-ing by information, and having feedback loops. This makes interdisciplinarity prerequisite for requisite holism. Hence, cybernetics needs systems thinking, not only a general theory of systems based on isomorphisms.
Bertalanffy created Systems Theory when noticing: humankind can hardly survive unless thinking and behaving as citizens of the world rather than single countries, and considering the entire biosphere as one whole, organization full of interdependencies. Therefore, one must fight the modern over-specialization, obviously by inter-disciplinarity and isomorphisms.
This necessity is difficult to meet. Systems theory became several streams (mathematical; putting systems equal to objects considered; seeing systems as one-sided mental pictures of the objects considered; working inter-disciplinarily, or closed into one discipline). Ones choice depends on ones selected viewpoint/s.
Here Mulejs Dialectical Systems Theory entered the scene in 1974, offering its way toward the requisite holism by consideration of interdependence (= dialectics) of essential viewpoints, and by impacting humans subjective starting points.
As methodology of systems / holistic thinking DST might be useful for definition what sociocybernetics is and applied by it.
20. EMILIO NOGALES - Extending Luhmann´s theory of social systems to real problems in education. The time dimension in functional system of education.
This paper will examine some basic data in the educational system evolution through the massmedia communication practice. Methodologically we follow, after statistical and legal description of structures at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED, Spain), a plan of system analysis for interviews qualitative research. The interviews more simple question was about the meaning (and consequences) of technological innovations in students: solitude, mediated communications, selection in superabundant information recourses and contents. Therefore the paper´s position in the theme and structure of this conference, about the future of the social sciences as main subject, is related to the time dimension of the education system. We assume that a rather new approach may be to use Luhmanns theory of social systems to explain this innovation in modalities of education, with the experience of distance education institutional observation, witch is my job more than ten years ago. We present as a mater of observation student activity and temporal intermittences in virtual space. And the way in what we are now, perhaps, better positioned to gain a new perspective on the questions that can be formulated: What has been the results, after several decades of operation, of the self-pacing rhythm that Distance Education offered its students? How do the society handle these results in the job market?
This paper mainly focuses on two issues. It describes technological innovations applying Luhmanns terminology. And explores on basic data pertaining to temporal dimension of the distance education system.
21. JOHAN H.L. OUD - Mapping Socio-Cybernetic Processes Or Attempting To Induce A Newtonian Paradigm Shift Into Sociology And Psychology Benefits And Problems. - Continuous Time Modeling Of The Cross-Lagged Panel Design
Since Newton (1642-1727) continuous time modeling by means of differential equations is the standard approach of dynamic phenomena in natural science, as well as in in fields of systems theory and cybernetics. It is argued that most processes in behavioral science, unidirectional as well as reciprocal loop or feedback processes, also unfold in continuous time and should be analyzed accordingly. After dealing with the essentials of stochastic differential equation modeling of panel data by means of structural equation modeling (SEM) and the exact discrete model (EDM), several paradoxes specifically related to the cross-lagged panel design in discrete time are addressed and solved in continuous time.
The first paradox concerns the two sets of coefficients in a cross-lagged panel analysis (e.g., by means of SEM), cross-lagged and instantaneous coefficients, which often give contradictory results. Second, different researchers, studying the same causal effect in different discrete time intervals, are unable to compare the strength of the causal effects. Finally, the strength and order of magnitude of the cross-effects (e.g., cross-lagged effect of x on y and of y on x) varies with the discrete time interval chosen by the researcher, even the sign of the effects may reverse when studied in continuous time. Educational research data illustrate and evaluate continuous time modeling of cross-lagged effects by means of different models and methods using SEM. Special attention is paid to the specification and analysis of feedback processes in continuous time.
22. YURI M. PISMAK - Modeling of Social Behavior by Methods of Theoretical Physics
The modern methodology of theoretical physics enables one to construct the formal mathematical quantitative description of the system behaviour basing on the simple principles for modeling of elementary interactions. Investigation experience has shown that normally for construction of realistic model it is not necessary to present in one the all detailed properties of elements: many of them are negligible on the level of macro-behavior of the system. The most simple universal models describe the critical phenomena. Recently, the models of such a kind ware suggested for many phenomena not concerning to traditional physics, for example, for dynamics of price formation on the stock market, forest fairs, information processes in INTERNET, evolution of biological ecosystem.
The general feature of all these processes is the so called self-organized criticality (SOC). It is the critical dynamics appearing without any fine tuning of the system parameters. The results of studies of proposed models of the SOC dynamics are in a good agreement with experimental data. It is established experimentally that the SOC is very prevalent type of dynamics in the nature. One believes that it is inherent characteristic of life. The effort in modeling of the SOC phenomena gives birth to hopes to construct formal mathematical description for behavior of living system, particularly, for the human society. In the framework of these approach "holistic" models of social system can be constructed. Examples of the models of such a kind are presented and results of investigations of ones are discussed.
23. ANTONÍN ROSICK_ And EVA KA_PAROVÁ - Nature of Social System: Emergence from Individuals Interaction
Our traditional culture is anthropically based however a systemic wisdom as well as second order cybernetics yields quite new worldview: The world of (objectively) given and outwardly ob-served entities becomes rather versatile interaction of autonomous systems. Also the man is firstly individual biological system actively interacting with (other systems within) his environment that embodies two faces - real (world) and social (ecosystem).
Communication is representing the specific form of interaction immediately tied up with information and its common conception is restricted just to social interaction. Moreover communication is understood as a simple transfer of information and in this sense information itself is seen as the (objectively) given entity. Similarly also technologically based informa-tion processing is mistaken for manipulation with symbols. From cybernetic positions in-formation is associated with systems organization and it is rather process (of interactions) than state. The issue of informations meaning initiating receivers behavior comes for-ward and opens a problem of purposefulness and through mutual interactions forms nature of social systems
Some social topics will be discussed with respect to unified theory of information, systems self-organization and principles of 2nd order cybernetics. In this sense information cannot be reduced only on symbolic form and it will be explained through circles of human cognition and re-production of personal implicit knowledge during interaction within both environments mentioned above. Also the character and meaning of natural language in processes of knowledge externalization and sharing will be outlined.
Against this background will be illustrated various qualities of social systems and some questionable human/social activities such as learning, design, emergence of anonymous power and technological influence on cultural evolution.
24. BERNARD SCOTT - Second Order Cybernetics: A Historical Introduction
In 1974, Heinz von Foerster articulated the distinction between a first order and a second order cybernetics, as, respectively, the cybernetics of observed systems and the cybernetics of observing systems. Von Foersters distinction, together with his own work on the epistemology of the observer, has been enormously influential on the work of a later generation of cyberneticians. It has provided an architecture for the discipline of cybernetics, one that, in true cybernetic spirit, provides order where previously there was variety and disorder. It has provided a foundation for the research programme that is second order cybernetics. However, as von Foerster himself makes clear, the distinction he articulated was imminent right from the outset in the thinking of the early cyberneticians, before, even, the name of their discipline had been coined. In this paper, I give a brief account of the developments in cybernetics that lead to von Foersters making his distinction. As is the way of such narratives, it is but one perspective on a complex series of events. Not only is my account a personal perspective, it also includes some recollections of events that I observed and participated in at first hand.
25. KARL-HEINZ SIMON - Some Early Contributions to Sociocybernetics - Sorokin as an Example?
In our contribution about some early contributions to sociocybernetics we concentrate on a scholar of social systems research - Pitirim Sorokin - who was, without any doubt an exponent of a macro-sociological level of analysis and has tried to integrate empirical findings and a (mainly qualitative) system theoretical framework (especially in his work on socio-cultural dynamics and the historical dynamics of empires).
As far as I know, Sorokin's work has so far not yet been referred to in sociocybernetics and only sparsely in some texts on social systems theory. Regarding Parsons there are several citations of Sorokin (e.g. in the Structure of Social Action) but more or less limited to narrow sociological statements and findings and in part highly controversial. One reason for the differences might have been that even at that time Parsons was convinced that "culture" is not the main focus of social systems research, whereas Sorokin worked to a large extent on that level of social phenomena.
Luhmann refers to Sorokin's concept of limited possibilities of variations of social systems but he ignores his description of "a socio-cultural system as a self-changing and self-directing unity" with its affinities with the central concept of autopoiesis. We will speculate in our contribution in more detail about the reasons for not taking notice of Sorkin's contributions and discuss the similarities but also differences between these two conceptualizations of self-organization in social systems.
26. MARTINE TIMSIT, DANIÈLE BOURCIER, and EVELYNE ANDREEWSKY - From hierarchy to autonomy: Democratization through communication - The case of specialized languages in Industry, Medicine and Law
In ancient Greece, coping with Zeus, kings , and scribes, implied a hierarchical view of the world. The Ionian cities' shift to Democracy was allowed by both the collapse of this view, and an increase of the internal communication, linked for each city to the facilities of its agora. Cities then became self-organizing systems, without king nor tyrant.
In the postmodern social life, similar shifts are taking place in a variety of social systems:
- In Industry, the Taylor paradigm took workers as objects excluded from specialized language, namely required for task definition; they are becoming autonomous subjects within more interactive systems, with new organizational approaches, favoring expression and communication.
- In Medicine, thanks to the patients rights (to access medical reports, and medical knowledge on the Internet...), patients are no longer objects referred to as specific medical cases, and become more autonomous subjects, interacting within the functional medical system. This transforms the status of both patients and physicians, namely in Psychopathology.
- In Law, the language is very specialized, raising, even for experts, many difficulties. To provide all citizens with legal texts (as pursued by the French and the British governments), implies the accessibility (through the Internet), and the intelligibility of these texts, so as to allow each citizen to interact properly within the functional legal system.
Such an evolution develops the autonomy of each individual within each functional social system he belongs to. And, at date, the Internet, our modern Agora, is at the heart of the whole process.
27. STUART A. UMPLEBY - Evaluating Theories of the Growth of Knowledge: An Empirical Study of the Philosophy of Science
The philosophy of science is usually illustrated with examples from the physical sciences. But the biological and social sciences are different in important ways. For example, in the social sciences there is an interaction between theory and phenomenon that does not occur in the physical sciences. Are some theories of the structure and growth of knowledge more suitable for some fields than others? What are the limits to Poppers doctrine of the unity of method -- the claim that the scientific method is suitable for all fields? One way to answer these questions is to conduct a set of studies over several years. The studies would develop a list of theories of the structure and growth of knowledge and then describe the knowledge in a large number of fields.
Imagine a matrix with the various theories of knowledge listed across the top. Down the left side would be a list of scientific fields (e.g., physics, chemistry, astronomy...; physiology, entomology, horticulture...; psychology, sociology, economics, management ). Finally, imagine at least one study in each cell of the matrix. A collection of studies of the knowledge in many fields would create a more comprehensive foundation for future work in the philosophy of science, with examples drawn from the biological and social sciences in addition to the physical sciences. Some of these studies might well lead to new thinking about how to advance research within particular disciplines. Another purpose would be to study how knowledge grows over a long period of time in various fields, in contrast to studies of specific contributions in just a few fields in the physical sciences. The results are likely to reveal which theories of knowledge are most appropriate for which scientific fields.
28. HÉCTOR ZAMORANO - Simulation Models for the Knowledge Management and its Measurement in not Remunerative Institutions and Govermental Departments
The title refer to a concrete model applied in a Rosario city museum (Argentina). Nowadays currents of thought included in the Knowledge Management try to reinforce the motorizing importance attributed to the training o human resources, and try to measure the Intelectual Capital. On the other hand, in the management of organizations, a strategic planing is supported by means of the introduction of the fullfilment of planned objectives measurement by means of a Balanced Scorecard. The work wich is preented tries to take into account both analysis lines, which are undoubtedly important for any organization, making them part of System Dinamicss method. Applying this systematic thought and using simulation models it is possible to show we can replace some aspects that become insufficient when both concepts already mentioned work separatedly:
a) it allows to show in advance and in a concrets way the consequences that decitions about knowledge management already taken, may causes.
b) It shows without any doubt the interrelationship that exists among the different subsystems of the organization.
c) It improves the use of indecators useful only to measure the past, presenting a model that allows certain degree of verification of hypothesis, including aspects such as causal relationship and delays, elements wich ar not taken into account in the Balanced Scorecard.
A very interesting aspect is the possibility to deal with qualitative variables in the model itself, connected to the incorporation of aspects of intelectual capital. In this concrete work, our objective was to build a struture that could be easily adaptable to other similar organizations, as you can see, the system was divided into four subsystems which ar connected to the four perspectives proposed by Kaplan and Norton in there works about balanced scorecard, showing the diagram of flows and stocks and the equations of the model.
29. JOHANNES VAN DER ZOUWEN AND JOHANNES H. SMIT - Control Processes In Survey Interviews: A Cybernetic Approach
A survey interview is a method of data collection in which information is transferred to the researchers via a communication process between interviewer and respondent. This process is controlled directly by the interviewers, and indirectly by the researchers who constructed the questionnaire and instructed and supervised the interviewers. The interview can thus be characterized by core concepts of cybernetics: information, communication, and control.
The researchers control the information gathering process via precise formulations of questions and response alternatives (open loop control). The respondents control the question-answering processes taking place in their minds, thereby guided and stimulated (closed loop control), by interviewers who in turn are instructed and trained to do so by the researchers.
Despite these control activities errors occur. In order to investigate the sources of these errors, we analyzed transcripts of 200 interviews -related to eight questions about income- using a detailed coding scheme. In 30% of all question-answer sequences interviewer and respondent stick to the 'script' designed by the researcher. In these 'paradigmatic' sequences the open loop control by the researcher works well. In 25% of the sequences this control is not sufficient, but additional closed loop control, via 'repair' activities of the interviewers, appears to be successful. In the remaining sequences both the open loop control of the researcher and the closed loop control by the interviewer failed.
Large differences between the eight questions with respect to deviations from the 'paradigmatic' sequence were found; also interviewers differed regarding their competence to practice closed loop control.
Updated, June 17, 2003