XVth World Congress of Sociology, Durban,

South Africa, 23-29 July 2006.

Abstracts

Juan Miguel Aguado, Universidad de Murcia, Spain
Self-observation, Self-reference and Operational Coupling in Social Systems: Steps Towards a Coherent Epistemology of Mass Media
E-Mail: jmaguado@um.es

Conceiving self-observation as epistemology coherently with the works of Autopoietic Systems Theory and von Foerster’s second order cybernetics, we consider the role of self-observation in managing meaning systems complexity with regard to the mass media system as a social sub-system functionally specialized in the coupling of psychic systems self-observation and social systems self-observation (including respectively themselves as each other’s internalized environment).

Self-observation as epistemology presupposes a capability for meta-observation (to observe the observation) that demands a specific distinction between observer and actor. This distinction seems especially relevant in those social contexts where a separation between the action of observation and other social actions is required (in politics, for instance). However, in those social contexts (such as mass media meaning production) where the defining action is precisely observation (in terms of the differentiation that constitutes the system), the border between observer and actor is blurred

Following Pakman’s assertion on the unavoidability of implicit epistemologies in social actors systems, we shall consider the significant divergence between the implicit and the explicit epistemologies of the mass media as a differentiated social sub-system. Such a divergence appears to be characterized by the explicit assumption by the mass media system of a classic objectivist epistemology, on one side, and a relativist epistemology on the other (‘media observe what there is out there’ versus ‘media produce what we are’), posing a hybrid epistemic status somewhere in between science and arts. We shall explore the contexts and dynamics in which those epistemologies of media are produced and applied, specially focusing our attention on the implications and uses of information as observational concept, and the role this divergence plays in externalizing and institutionalizing self-observation processes.

Universidad de Murcia, Facultad de Comunicación y Documentación, Campus de Espinardo, 30100 Murcia, Spain

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Jeffrey Alexander, Yale University, USA
Oral comments on the Papers Presented in the Session: “Sociology and Social Systems Theory” (NO ABSTRACT)
E-Mail: jeffrey.alexander@yale.edu

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Jose A. Amozurrutia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico
Sociocybernetics Applied in Cultural Activity Analysis

E-Mail: amoz@labcomplex.net

In this paper, I present the main criteria to construct a reflexive computer system from the point of view of sociocybernetics. This construction is based on a real problem situation in an institution which has to deal with the analysis and evaluation of cultural activity. The main result of the project is the elaboration of a document that may be published and a computer system from which the main results are derived. The system may also be an instrument used by the institution to transform the operative activities related with the analysis and monitoring of new cultural projects.

The whole project is conceived as the interconnection of two subsystems: the interaction and interdependence of the communication between the members of the project and members of the institution. The second organizes a memory of observables generated by the knowledge, interactions and learning in progress of the field analysts and the social researchers in the group. The main observables are taken from history files. Each file represents an artistic scholarship recorded in several types of documents and products. Logical and physical file organization is based on specific criteria of 25 main programs which have been operated by different groups.

Torre II de Humanidades, 6 piso, CEIICH, UNAM, México D.F. cp. 04510
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Maria José Arthur, WLSA Mozambique
Between Law and Social Morals: the functioning of the Advice Bureau for Women and Children victims of domestic violence

E-mail: chico@tropical.co.mz

Public action is fundamental to control and contain domestic violence. However, the results of the research (Research Project about Violence against Women, WLSA Mozambique) show that this public action still has scarce efficiency.
This communication analyses three major difficulties for the police, when it comes to contextualizing domestic violence crimes.

First, the problem has to do with the law and police practice. An accusation always refers to a specific act. But this model does not take into account the continuous cycle of violence, composed by multiple aggressions and sometimes psychological violence (difficult to prove in court). The second constraint has to do with the fact that domestic aggressions are analyzed under the light of hegemonic cultural values that emphasise the masculine right to use force in order to resolve marital conflicts. As such, it is difficult for police agents to think and reflect on the problem outside of the interiorized family gender model. The third constraint has to do with the fact that even though the litigious parts should testify about the specific episode that led to the accusation, these episodes are almost always preceded by other violent episodes that may have lasted for years, making it very difficult to carry out preliminary investigations.
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Ken Bailey, UCLA, USA
A Typology of Emergence in Social Systems and Sociocybernetic Theory

E-mail: Kbailey@soc.ucla.edu

The concept of emergence, like that of complexity, is central to the development of sociocybernetics and social systems theory. The classical “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” model is a traditional model not only of emergence, but also of a social system, with individuals being the “parts”, and society (as derived through interaction among individuals) being the emergent “whole”. While the models of emergence as presented by Buckley, Luhmann, Miller and others may differ in form and in their relation to complexity, they all recognize emergence as a “bottom-up” hierarchical concept. All of these models view emergence as aggregative and as essentially irreducible. However, emergence is a multidimensional concept, rather than being essentially unidimensional, as is generally assumed. The only way to adequately present and analyze all of the dimensions of emergence is through a typology. The purpose of this paper is to construct this typology. The typology will subsequently be used as a medium for recognizing and analyzing the various types of emergence that exist in contemporary social systems theory and sociocybernetics, with the aim of ultimately eliminating much of the confusion that now surrounds the concept of emergence.

Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
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Claudio Baraldi and Laura Gavioli, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italia
Interaction Analysis: Towards an Integration Between Social Systems Theory and Conversation Analysis

E-Mail: cbbp@iol.it

Niklas Luhmann looks at interaction as one type of social system, i.e., that involving the physical presence of participants. Luhmann does not analyse interactions in-depth, mainly focusing on more complex functional subsystems in modern society (politics, economics, laws, sciences, education, families, mass media). However, the relevance of interactions in these subsystems appears high. In national parliaments, international political negotiations, business meetings, hospitals, schools, families, courts, talk shows, etc., interactions reproduce functional subsystems and functional subsystems reproduce interactions. The analysis of interactions is crucial to understand the complexity of functional subsystems as communication systems and an analysis of interactional mechanisms may provide clues to specific structures of functional subsystems.

Conversation Analysis studies the mechanisms producing the features of interactions. It analyses: 1) the turn-mechanism and the sequences of action, and the ways in which interactional mechanisms create roles and personal contributions; 2) the interactional establishment of understanding, for example examining verbal and pseudo-verbal production. It seems that CA and the social systems’ approach can become parts of a unique inter-theoretical approach to the study of interactions. This can be shown through an analysis of communication processes in interaction systems, providing examples that support these theoretical assumptions.

Claudio Baraldi, Dipartimento di Scienze del Linguaggio e della Cultura, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Largo Sant'Eufemia 19, I-41100 Modena, Italy
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Robert Bichler, Christian Fuchs, Celina Raffl, Advanced Studies and Research in Information and Communication Technologies & Society, Austria
Co-operative Cyberethics for a Sustainable Information Society

E-Mail: robert.bichler@sbg.ac.at, christian.fuchs@sbg.ac.at, celina.raffl@sbg.ac.at

We conceive morals as a self-organizing subsystem of society in which human beings communicate about the legitimacy of norms, rules and values and constitute as well as reproduce moral structures. We identify four distinctive approaches based on the subject-object-relation in society: First there are subjective, individual ethics that conceive norms and values as individually constructed; secondly, objective ethics conceive norms and values on an objective level. The objective level can furthermore be understood in two forms as either an absolute (transcendental) or as an intersubjective dimension of ethics (values as the result of discourse and communicative action). Hence the third approach is dualistic and sees the subjective and the objective level of ethics separately. The fourth approach is based on dialectical thinking, maintaining that the objective and the subjective level of ethics are two areas that (re-)produce each other and are interconnected.

The evolution of modern society has resulted in a shift from industrial society towards the knowledge society. This transformation is a multidimensional shift that affects all aspects of society. Hence also the ethical system of society is penetrated by the emergence of the knowledge society and ethical guidelines for the Information Age are about to emerge. Ethical issues and conflicts in the knowledge society are connected to topics of ecological and social sustainability. For InformEthics and CyberEthics the sustainable design of social and socio-technological systems is important. Co-operation is considered as a central guideline for moral action in the information age.

ICT&S Center - Advanced Studies and Research in Information and Communication Technologies & Society, Sigmund Haffner Gasse 18, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria
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Lucio Biggiero, L’Aquila University, Italia
System Identity and Autonomy of an International Research Team: A Case Study in Self-Observation

E-Mail: biggiero@ec.univaq.it

Although at the core of systems theorizing, the concepts of system identity and autonomy are still lacking remarkable empirical tests. Both the system’s characteristics come from recursive self-organizing and self-referential processes. In the case of human systems, they are mainly based on self-observation. This property takes place through cognitive and communication patterns. The present paper analyzes the COMMORG case, an international research team, which, besides the formal identity given by the European Union administration, built up its own identity and autonomy during its working life. The COMMORG system was able to develop its self-observation through three different methodological tools, which show the structure and evolution of the communication patterns forging its identity and autonomy. The use of an emailing list revealed as the central means of communication, enough to build system identity of a (virtual) international research team. The system identity, the communication patterns, and the semiotic patterns are recursively related to structural aspects, and change over time.

Keywords: autonomy, email, emailing list analysis, genre repertoire, international research team, organization, research methodologies, second-order cybernetics, self-observation, self-organization, self-reference, system identity.

Luiss Guido Carli, Viale Pola, 12 - 00198 Roma – Italia
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Søren Brier, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
The Missing Person: Problems in Reflecting Luhmannian Empirical Systemic Research Results: Back into a Democratic Society of Embodied, Juridical, Political and Ethical Responsible Subjects

E-Mail: sbr.lpf@cbs.dk

There are no individual animal or human observers in Luhmanian system science, only recursive self-organizing patterns of communication. This theoretical framework does not have a personal core with a self-conscious free will that controls the communications and actions and can be held responsible for them. This attacks the core metaphysics in the democratic societies after the Enlightenment. Though we do believe in social forces of language and its models of reality and social institutions, of coercion, group pressure, status and power, our society is still based on the belief that the individual is a responsible subject that is able to make personal and individual decisions and take political, moral and juridical responsibility for them. They are punishable for their acts that might violate the laws and their vote has political consequences that cannot be withdrawn. Thus there seems to be a deep contradiction in the metaphysics here. I agree with Luhmann's threefold autopoietic model. But I think it lacks the understanding of how the embodiment of knowing in living as a subject is a prerequisite for that field of meaning that the socio-communicative feeds on and manipulates!!

CBS, LPF, Porcelænshaven 18A, DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark.
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Eva Buchinger, ARC systems research, Austria
Practical Relevance of Luhmann’s Social System Theory: Governance of Autopoietic Social Systems.
E-mail: eva.buchinger@arcs.ac.at

In terms of practical application, the conceptualization of society and actors as an interrelated ensemble of autopoietic systems – as it is done in Luhmann’s theory of social systems – raises above all the question: How is it possible to govern operationally closed entities? The standard answer of the theory of social systems - according to their self-reproducing operation mode, they cannot be controlled or determined from outside - is often associated with “steering pessimism” (Steuerungspessimismus). Closer examination of the theory of social systems reveals not only steering pessimism but also moderate steering optimism. This is particularly true for the concept of resonance. Summarizing, it can be said that Luhmann’s theory of social systems is a useful analytical instrument to detect inherent weaknesses in public governance. Unfortunately, the theory of social systems is far away from providing the same usefulness and precision concerning the overcoming of steering deficits. Too much attention has been given to the explanation of the improbability of steering and too little to the explanation of the achievement of desired resonance. This is so much the worse as achieving desired resonance is not only an issue of public governance but basically of every social interaction.

ARC systems research, Tech Gate Vienna, Donau-City-Straße 1, A-1220 Wien, Austria
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Eva Buchinger, ARC systems research, Austria
Public Governance of Innovation: From Legal to Monetary to Knowledge-based Policy Instruments

E-mail: eva.buchinger@arcs.ac.at

From a system theory perspective, the most powerful means by which politics can influence addressees are the symbolically generalized communication media “law” and “money”, and they are therefore referred to as the media of steering (Steuerungsmedien). In nations characterized by constitutional law and market economy, both media will be effective and therefore the use of policy instruments based in these two media is widespread in the public governance of innovation. But both types of instruments have their shortcomings. As a consequence, the traditional emphasis on the steering media law and money has been reduced and – from the observer’s perspective – more attention has been given to the steering media “knowledge”. But it is also true, that the power of knowledge based instruments should not be overestimated. On balance, the creative combination of all three media of steering – legislation, money, and knowledge – opens up a range of possibilities for new policy programs. Successful governance of innovation has to use an appropriate policy mix which presupposes know-how about forms and positive and negative effects of all kinds of policy instruments. Today a focus on knowledge based instruments is justified because of the comparable newness of this kind of instruments.

ARC systems research, Tech Gate Vienna, Donau-City-Straße 1, A-1220 Wien, Austria
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David Byrne, Durham University, United Kingdom
What is an effect?

E-mail: dave.byrne@durham.ac.uk

Debates about causality have focused on the character of the causal side of the binary pair: Cause and Effect. There is an ontological argument between positivists and critical realists with critical realists asserting the complex, contingent and generative character of cause, and an epistemological debate between critical realists and post-modernists with the latter reducing the social world to mere knowledge of it.

My argument draws on Complexity Theory as well as critical realism and asserts that our understanding will be advanced if we think about the nature of effects in the social world. The central premise is that objects in the social world are complex systems. What matters about complex systems is whether they stay much the same or change to some different state, whilst maintaining their integrity. In neither case are we dealing with the incremental linear change as this is understood in use of the General Linear Model. Configurational approaches by looking at effects in terms of a typological specification of the nature of systems allow for complex and multiple causation. The paper will develop these arguments in relation to their implications for the integration of the quantitative and qualitative programs in Sociology.

School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Durham, 32 Old Elvet, DH1 3HN, United Kingdom
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Jane Davis, North Carolina A&T State University, USA
A New Theory: The Nonlinear Dynamic Theory of Teaching and Learning

E-mail: janeds@ncat.edu

The non-linear theory of teaching and learning describes a system that is chaotic and therefore creative, containing many possibilities, many variables and is robust or globally stable. Local instability, due to sensitive dependence on initial conditions describes a beginning state of learning for a student. Iteration can take the form of one of three types: a fixed point attractor, a limit cycle (a damped and driven system) or a strange attractor (deep chaotic system) found when the members of the system begin learning through thinking critically about content. Strange attractors can be created through one or a series of catastrophe shelves because of their far-from-equilibrium state. Like other Chaotic systems, systems that comprise the teaching and learning process are nonlinear in that input does not equal output, and cause can be widely separated from effect.

Complex systems, or creative, critical thinking can arise at any time during the teaching/learning process, or cannot, but is recognizable as critical thinking if chaotic dynamics is understood by the classroom teacher. Chaotic dynamics in the classroom operate in concert with the brain, since both systems are nonlinear. The presence of the strange attractor signifies structure, and defines true chaos as opposed to meaningless and random thinking, and helps the teacher facilitate creative and critical thinking in the classroom. And, finally, these principles hold true regardless of scale; that is, creative and critical thinking can be fostered for one student, a classroom or a school system through the application of the same principles of chaos.

North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, North Carolina, NC 27411, USA
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Eldad Davidov, University of Giessen, Germany, Peter Schmidt, Han Oud
Anomia and Authoritarianism in Germany: Analyzing Feedback by Means of an Autoregressive Cross-Lagged Model and a Stochastic Differential Equation Model on Three Wave Panel Data

E-mail: E-mail: j.oud@ped.kun.nl

In order to delineate the causal relations between the latent variables authoritarianism and anomia in Germany, we apply and compare two different although related approaches to analyse feedback: an autoregressive cross-lagged model and a stochastic differential equation model. In the feedback model we draw a feedback loop between anomia and authoritarianism in order to investigate whether anomia has a causal effect on authoritarianism, whether authoritarianism has a causal effect on anomia, or whether both have an effect on each other. As analyses of causal relations on cross-sectional data are easily called into question, we use panel data. Each latent construct measured at time 1 is a function of its former value at time -1 plus stochastic error. Each latent variable is related in a measurement model to its respective indicators and random measurement errors. There are compelling arguments why the discrete time approach of the autoregressive cross-lagged model should be replaced by a continuous time approach. Especially, it is argued that the results of a discrete time model should not depend on the length of the observation interval and must remain the same when the interval is, say, doubled or halved. Data were taken from the Group-Related Enmity Survey, which is a representative sample of the German adult population. The survey data were collected at three time points between 2002 and 2004. We compare in detail the results for the models using the same data set of our three-wave panel study.

University of Basel, Department of Sociology, Petersgraben 27 CH-4051 Basel, Switzerland
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Antonio Eito Mateo, Univ. Zaragoza, Spain (presence not confirmed)
Inmigración, integración y capital social: El caso de la Ciudad de Huesca

E-mail: antoni@unizar.es

In the last years the South-European countries, traditionally emigrant societies, have become immigrant societies. Their regional and geopolitical integration (NATO, European Union...), their economic progress, and the unequal world development resulting from globalization, have made these countries very attractive for many people from the developing countries.

In our research we try to analyze one of these cases, taking as a reference the city of Huesca (Aragon-Spain). A small city of services, where in the last 10 years immigrant people have been coming. Now the city is in a social change process: multiculturalism, new languages, people from different countries, etc., a new context and a new situation in this city, and in this area.

Our analysis is a qualitative research, we are going to focus it especially on the importance of the social networks and the social capital. These elements are essentials for the migratory analysis. These networks are the main migration element multiplier. Also, if the society can create social capital (administrations, NGO, residents associations), it will be basic for the integration of the immigrant people and to create a society without exclusions.

Universidad de Zaragoza, Departamento de Psicología y Sociología, Facultad de Ciencias Humanas y de la Educación, Valetín Carderera, 4, 22003 Huesca, Aragón-Spain


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Dave Elder-Vass, Birkbeck College London, United Kingdom
Emergence and Functionalism: Friends or Foes?

E-mail: d.eldervass@ntlworld.com

Social systems theory has been dominated by functionalism, with its focus on the differentiation of subsystems and its tendency to ascribe a substantial degree of autonomy to such subsystems, expressed most extremely in Luhmann’s reliance on autopoiesis. However, there is another strand of systems thinking, which is receiving increasing attention in sociology: emergentism. At least some emergentists see the causal powers of entities as depending on their parts and thus privilege a relationship that autopoiesis denies.

These two threads of the systems paradigm seem potentially incompatible. They may conflict, for example, over:
a) the ontological status of functional subsystems – are they real, or merely useful abstractions?
b) the significance of lower level properties in explaining the behaviour or properties of higher level systems – and thus the validity of autopoiesis;
c) their accounts of the historical genesis of functional systems;
d) whether the boundaries between social subsystems are clear cut and fundamental, or arbitrary, elastic, and of secondary importance;
e) whether communication between social subsystems must be conducted through some real external medium, or may be internal to people and structures that participate in multiple subsystems.

This paper will be concerned with enumerating and clarifying the potential conflicts – and indeed the potential complementarities – between emergentist and functionalist paradigms for social systems theory. It will not, however, offer a definitive solution to the tensions between emergentism and functionalism; it is oriented to the more modest goal of arriving at a definition of the problem.

School of Politics and Sociology, Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, UK
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J. David Flynn, James Hay and Madeline Lennon, University of Western Ontario, Canada
The Emergence of Art Systems - Cycles of Change in Art Styles Before and After the Renaissance

E-mail: pdflynn@rogers.com

We studied changes in art styles related to changes in the surrounding society. In particular, we examined changes in art styles before, during, and after the Renaissance. Art historians often subdivide each art period into Early, High and Late stages, as they describe a kind of cycle during the development of new, dominant styles. We compared these social cycles to models from complexity science, which show how systems emerge from randomness, pass through cascading bifurcations to chaos, hence to the edge of chaos, and beyond into order, before reversing the cycle back toward chaos, from which emerges a new cycle.

In order to account for these cycles in art styles, we subsumed many social and economic factors into two complexity science variables: differentiation and centrality. Differentiation refers to the amount of variety within a system, such as the urban system of the city of Florence, and how the variety of different skills and techniques were organised. Centrality is the extent to which a system is connected to other systems, and, hence, exposed to incoming information. Thus centrality varied over time for a city such as Florence during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, depending upon its links with other cities and invaders. We then showed how the ratio of differentiation to centrality accounted, at least in a general way, for the Renaissance cycle of art.

University of Western Ontario, King´s University College, Department of Sociology, 266 Epworth Avenue, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 2M3
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Felix Geyer, Laren, The Netherlands
The “War on Terror” and “The Future of an Illusion”: Regression to Fundamentalist Religion as an Inadequate Defense Against Growing Complexity

E-mail: geyer@xs4all.nl

The paper concentrates on the religious motives for the war on terror – early on defined as “a crusade” (!) by president Bush - rather than on the more usual pedestrian reasons for this and other wars, like political ideology, profits, access to resources and raw materials (oil!), etc. It examines on the Muslim side to what extent the anti-Western forces driving al-Qaeda, Iranian foreign policy, and the Hamas victory in Palestine are indeed motivated by religion. On the Western side it examines specifically to what extent (religious) activities and developments in the Western world have caused these anti-Western forces to emerge. Relevant in this respect is the systematic infiltration of the Republican Party, if not the media and even American society as a whole, by fundamentalist and proselytizing Christian groups. In line with Freud, it argues that both these Christian and Muslim fundamentalists entertain equally unrealistic illusions about the modern world that are an overly simplistic and ultimately ineffective defense against the rapidly growing complexity of the environment, and argues that, to the extent religion and a feeling of transcendence are needed at all in the 21st century, some degree of polytheism might better fit the hyper-complexity of modern environments.

Van Beeverlaan 8A, 1251ES, Laren, The Netherlands
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Barry Gibson, King's College London, United Kingdom
The Codification of quality of life in medicine and dentistry: a systems theoretical study

E-mail: barry.gibson@kcl.ac.uk

Existing sociological explanations of the phenomena of quality of life have suggested that it is a ‘rhetorical’ solution to a political problem. The aim of this paper is to set alongside these arguments an analysis of the codification of quality of life from the perspective of Luhmann’s theory of social systems. The analysis presented will establish how the underlying paradox of quality of life is unravelled in medical and dental communications. This codification is organised around the paradox between the quality and quantity of life. This reflects an imperative in medicine not only to save life but also to preserve patient dignity or welfare.

Closely related to these forms of meaning are communications on quality of life that consider the quantity of social usefulness versus the quality of social usefulness of persons before and after treatment. Apart from these forms of organisation, communications about quality of life are also important in setting the boundaries of medical systems. In conclusion: by utilising Luhmann’s theory of social systems we are able to uncover how the fluid complex of meaning associated with the codification of quality of life has become thematised throughout medical and dental systems. We are subsequently able to expand our understanding of how quality of life has emerged as more than just a political problem.

Department of Oral Health and Development, School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield, UK
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Jorge A. González, Research and development, LabCOMplex-UNAM- México
Cibercultur@ in displaced communities: Facilitating and analysing Emergent Local Knowledge Communities
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E-mail: <Jorge@labcomplex.net>

Cibercultur@@ (KC@) is taken not (only) as what is flowing into a virtual space. Instead, into a wider process of theory construction, a twofold meaning is attached to it. I understand the development of KC@ as the cultivation of three different but interconnected cultures: Information (constructed relation between experiences and codes), Communication (coordination of actions) (Maturana, Varela) and Knowledge
(distributed psicogenesis) (Piaget, García, Vygotsky, Wertsch, Del Río) powered by an intensive use of information and communication technologies.

On the other side, KC@ is understood as a complex object of study, in which we need to make observable the socio-historical and symbolic relationships between the Technological Vector and the Symbolic Ecologies of displaced communities. Against the current scientific doxa (what is doxa?) talking about the “information society”, “digital divide” and “ICT”, a KC@ approach rooted in a socio-historical tradition and into a critical pedagogy (Freinet)

The paper will show some findings from an empirical project dveloped in eight nodes in México, in which a collective Project of recovering old memories and testimonies about water, quality of life and the decay of the environment, has been focused in the cognitive and structural changes of those people involved into the KC@ activation.

We claim that when a “deactivated” (in information, communication And knowledge) community develops KC@, a process of symbolic and social empowerment takes place, visualized as a cognitive and structural set of visible and self-organized changes.


Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Ciencias y Humanidades, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Torre II de Humanidades, 6° piso, Ciudad Universitaria, 04510, DF
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Marzia Grassi, University of Lisbon, Institute of Social Science, Portugal
Género, Economia informal e transnacionalismo em contextos multiculturais: Cabo Verde, Angola e países da diáspora

E-mail: marzia.grassi@ics.ul.pt

The theoretical discussion presented in this paper is grounded on two case studies carried on in Angola (Grassi, 1997) and in Cape Verde (Grassi 2002 e 2003) which originated two different team projects under my own coordination, still in progress. The first one (Cape Verde around the world) is about informal networks (of goods and people) in Capeverdean diasporas in Portugal, Italy and USA and the second one (Moving Angola) is on informal trans-border movements in the frontiers of four Angolan regions. Economic activities, along with other social phenomena, are embedded in the culture and social, political and institutional value systems that influence the behaviour of actors in order to undermine, create or impose collective identities that in turn impact on economic behaviours. This is why these researches are guided by the concept that meanings attributed to identity are always unstable and constantly interacting with difference and the supplementary meanings that emerge and subvert efforts to create fixed and stable worlds. And thus dialogue between economics and sociology is rendered easy, opportune and necessary for the understanding of social and economic factors and to monitor perceived processes of institutional evolution.

Institute of Social Science, University of Lisbon, 1600-189 Lisbon, Portugal
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Cestmir Halbich, Czech University of Agriculture, Czech Republic
Participatory Sustainable Development in Rural Areas: Case Study – Internet in the Czech Countryside
E-mail: halbich@pef.czu.cz

The contribution is based on author’s long-term experience in the field of sustainable development and information technology. Results from our university long-term research indicate that some myths about the backwardness or conservatism of the countryside in general are not valid. The farm use of internet technologies is similar to the use in other fields of business. There is only one difference: farmers use only technologies useful for them. We can illustrate this with one of the results of the research. All our findings are implemented in a model based on system theory which can help realise new projects in rural communities in different areas of interest, including sustainable development, internet technologies and others. The results of the long-term survey detected development trends in the use of the internet and allow to define the behaviour of farmers by effectiveness function. Farmers’ behaviour is described by some black boxes and presented by effectiveness function with maximalisation of the profit. Farmers compare costs and pay-off and decide whether to use internet technologies such as e-mail and web pages, or not to use it, e.g. e-commerce. Farmers adopted e-mail and web pages very fast but other technologies are used not so much. In this second case the effectiveness function is flat without strong benefit to the profit in our model.

Czech university of agriculture in Prague, Faculty of management and economics, 165 21 Praha 6-Suchdol, Czech republic

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Bob Hodge, University of Western Sydney, Australia
Foucault's Discursive Machine and the Cybernetics of Truth

E-mail: b.hodge@uws.edu.au

This paper will map Foucault's influential accounts of discourse, power and truth onto non-linear forms of socio-cybernetics. The paper will re-frame Foucault's classic account of discursive regimes, which adapted Lasswell's linear effects-model, in cybernetic terms: 'I am supposing that in every society the production of discourse is at once controlled, selected, organised and redistributed according to a certain number of procedures, whose role is to avert its powers and its dangers, to cope with chance events, to evade its ponderous, awesome materiality' (1976:216). This can be seen as a device which controls what can be said, by whom, when and where: or more precisely, what will count as having been said, in a way that matters. This device controls what legitimate speakers can say, their 'truth', and at the same time reinforces their power.

The paper will refine socio-cybernetics in these terms to produce more powerful, subtle and explanatory understandings of media, communication and society, exploring socio-cybernetic models applied to instances which raise issues around the social functions of the mass media in a far-from-equilibrium socio-sphere. This model will be especially well adapted to treating issues of resistance and social transformation as emergent phenomena in a global framework.

University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797
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Wolfgang Hofkirchner, University of Salzburg and Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science, Austria
Towards a Post-Luhmannian Social Systems View

E-mail: Wolfgang.Hofkirchner@sbg.ac.at

In sociology and social sciences there has been for long a debate on whether actions and agents play the role of the explanans in sociological or social scientific explanations or structures and rules. In this contribution it will be argued that introducing the concept of self-organisation that relates agency and systems enables the divide between both strains of thought to be rendered obsolescent.

This reconceptualization of the central issue in social science in terms of self-organization is able to resort to and integrate important ideas and insights of recent attempts to overcome the dichotomy in social theory which do not explicitly refer to an evolutionary systems theory of society. However, it differs fundamentally from the Luhmannian type of approaching social systems while being consistent with various other perspectives on evolutionary systems inside and outside the human realm — in particular, with Bertalanffy’s General System Theory.

ICT&S Center, Universität Salzburg Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse 18 5020 Salzburg
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Bernd R. Hornung, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg GmbH
Bits, Bytes, and Other Distinctions which make a Difference: From the Laws of Form to a Sociocybernetic Concept of Information

E-mail: hornung@med.uni-marburg.de

While bits and bytes are taken for granted in the computer world, the concept of information remains largely unclear. Those who take "information" not simply as a given mostly use the information concept of Shannon and Weaver in spite of its well-known drawbacks. In sociology, dealing with human communication, information, knowledge society, etc., the situation is not different.

The paper analyzes how several approaches from a systems background (Shannon and Weaver, Bateson, von Foerster) might fit together and how a sociocybernetic concept of information can be developed.

Based on epistemological constructivism several distinctions are used to structure the argument. Complemented by the inside/outside distinction this leads to the concept of observing and observed systems. The constructivist starting point of the argument is strictly inside, i.e. experience, while information/communication - related to matter/energy - are accessible both from an inside and an outside perspective.

The underlying phenomena are, across all levels, distinctions. This is compatible both with Stonier´s concept of information as the internal structure of the universe and with the bits and bytes of informatics. Finally it will be investigated how and to what extent Spencer Brown´s Laws of Form relate and can contribute to a sociocybernetic concept of information.

University Hospital Giessen and Marburg GmbH, Robert-Koch-Straße 5 (7a), 35037 Marburg, Germany
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Zach Johnson, Bernard Scott, Cranfield University, United Kingdom
Learning Conversations in Higher Education

E-mail: z.johnson@cranfield.ac.uk

With the understanding that sociocybernetics is concerned with the application of cybernetics and the systems science to the social sciences, in this paper we develop a sociocybernetic conceptual framework for the domain of education, with particular application to the higher education sector. The work of the celebrated cybernetician, Gordon Pask, is our main source of inspiration. Pask (1972) states: “Education is a regulatory system of civilisation.”

He went on to develop, with Scott and other colleagues, conversation theory (CT), a cybernetic theory of learning and teaching which, as discussed in the paper, can be recursively applied at many levels of resolution, from that of the individual learner to that of a whole institution. Our conceptual framework is based on CT. We use it to model the many structures and processes that constitute higher education practice. We go on to describe an ongoing research programme that uses the conceptual framework for understanding how higher education is being transformed by information and communication technologies, with the aim of clarifying how these transformations can be guided and effectively facilitated.

Learning Conversations in Higher Education, Cranfield University, United Kingdom
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Michael Jonas, Institute of Advanced Studies Vienna, Austria
Towards an Explanation of Emergence Processes in Regional High-tech Clusters: Development of Structural Complexity vs. Creativity in Situational Practices of Action?

E-mail: jonas@ihs.ac.at

The aim of the paper is to discuss the concept of emergence in the field of regional high-tech clusters on a theoretical level. The term emergence is often connected to the observation that the whole is more than the sum of its parts and that emerging phenomena are created bottom up from individual actions or communications (collective learning, community-building actions…). In contradiction to this, the theory of self-organising systems, for example, argues that self-reference in social systems leads to a recombination process of existing system elements, creating both new qualities and new elements.

The central feature of those qualities and elements is their autonomy in contrast to previous system constellations (cf. Teubner 1992). Emergent orders and emergent processes can be explained by discussing the development of structural complexity (Luhmann 1997). However, action-oriented sociologists often forego the term ‘emergence’ and take – for example – such processes as a theme in working out the constructive character of creativity in situational practices of action (Joas 1992). This paper plans to combine action- with system-oriented theories to develop an explanatory concept of emergence, which can be used in the study of social practices in regional high-tech cluster processes.


Institute of Advanced Studies (IHS), Department of Sociology, Stumpergasse 56, A-1060 Vienna, Austria
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Diane Laflamme, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
The Emergence of Ethical Programmes and Moral Conditionings in Meaning-Constituting Systems

E-mail: ad.laflamme@sympatico.ca

For Niklas Luhmann, psychic systems and social systems are both “meaning-constituting systems”; they respectively produce: meaningful thoughts by connecting one thought to another, and meaningful communications by connecting one communication to another. The operations of meaning-constituting systems are contingent selections constantly in search of connectivity: the system selects this conscious thought, this communication – and not the other possibilities. Through such selections, meaning is “constituted” within the horizon comprising the totality of the references that could possibly be present when one is thinking or is communicating about a meaningfully intended object. Husserlian phenomenology describes in similar terms the constitution of meaning and will contribute to our understanding of the meaning-constituting operations required to produce moralized communications and ethical programs.

Meaning-constituting selections can be conditioned; the system then establishes under which conditions a connection will or will not happen. Morality is an example of such a conditioning: when making a connection, the system applies the binary code good or bad as a condition of its choice between this selection and all the other possibilities. For Luhmann, morality designates the conditions under which one can praise or blame oneself or another, and under which esteem or disesteem can be communicated. Conditioning through a binary coding is an operation that can itself be conditioned; this gives rise to a program. Ethical programs will be examined here as a conditioning of the moral code. This exploration should provide valuable insights on the capacity of meaning-constituting systems not only to constitute meaningful programs but also to engage in self-programming.

Université du Québec à Montréal, Département de sciences des religions, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3P8, Canada
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Iosu Lizarralde Aiastui, Mondragon Unibertsitatea, Spain
Building up an Entrepreneurial Region by Means of Social Capital

E-mail: ilizarra@eteo.mondragon.edu

Desde el punto de vista del Desarrollo Regional, el Capital Social puede ser considerado como la capacidad colectiva de una serie de agentes económicos regionales para formar y usar eficientemente las redes u otras formas de cooperación, basándose siempre en un sistema de valores, normas e instituciones compartidos (confianza y reciprocidad), que permita y acelere el proceso de aprendizaje regional. Mi hipótesis de investigación se centra en que el modelo cooperativo parte con ventaja a la hora de generar Capital Social y eso tiene una implicación directa en el Desarrollo Regional y en la generación de un sistema egional eficiente.

El estudio se centra en demostrar que el conglomerado que la Corporación Cooperativa Mondragón ha construido en la región de Debagoiena, basándose en los principios y valores cooperativos, ha generado un Capital Social que le ha permitido a esta comarca desarrollarse más que otras comarcas del entorno.
Eso es debido, en gran medida, porque MCC ha logrado constituirse en una plataforma competitiva interdependiente en el diálogo/contexto global y local, garantizando la atractividad y conectividad del territorio, desde un sistema en red favorecedor de la interacción proactiva entre los diferentes actores económicos, sociales e institucionales; optimizando las oportunidades científico-tecnológicas y manteniendo siempre vigentes los principios cooperativos que sustentan la experiencia.

Mondragon Unibertsitatea, Spain
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Thomas M. Kemple, University of British Columbia, Canada
Cybernetic Casings and Observational Systems: From Weber to Parsons to Luhmann

E-mail: Kemple@interchange.ubc.ca

This paper argues that Max Weber’s famous characterization of modernity as a largely closed but also malleable assemblage, or ‘steel-hard casing’ (stahlhartes Gehäuse), offers the basis for a new theoretical insight into the development of systems theory from Talcott Parsons to Niklas Luhmann. Weber deployed this suggestive figure first to characterize how the ‘value-rational’ principles of the Protestant reformers were superseded by the technological spirit of occidental capitalism, and later to dramatize how the charismatic ideals of political action in Wilhelmine Germany were contained by the bureaucratic ethos of the nation-state. In the decades after World War II, however, Weber’s dual perspective on the machinations of the capitalist economy and the bureaucratic state was partially eclipsed in explanations of how the boundaries of the social system form a kind of permeable ‘iron cage’ (Parsons’s famous translation of Weber’s metaphor) or a flexible cybernetic medium of communication and information processing (Luhmann’s revision of Parsons’s action theory).

The paper focuses on the problem of disciplined observation – which Weber formulated in term of ‘objectivity’ and ‘value-freedom’ – as the hinge of this conceptual revision: Parsons’s vision of an open cybernetic model for observing how symbolic media facilitate exchanges between systems and their environment was radicalized in Luhmann’s attention to the autopoietic and reflexive dimension of self-steering systems. The ‘detour through Weber’ brings into sharper focus the economic and political structure of social systems, the potential for ethical and cultural transvaluation, and the critical project of reason that may otherwise be obscured by these systems theoretical perspectives.


Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of British Columbia, 6303 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T1Z1
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Christopher Kindblad, University of Halmstad, Sweden
The Importance of the Moravian Ethics for the Miskitu Culture: A Matriztic Perspective on the Role of Emotions in Cultural Change

E-mail: christopher.kindblad@hos.hh.se

This paper starts out from the matriztic perspective on culture, as developed by Humberto Maturana and Ximena Dávila, in order to analyse the importance of the Moravian ethics for the understanding of changes in the Miskitu society, Nicaragua, during the 20th century. I will argue that traditional sociology has lacked a theory of emotions, which has made it difficult to understand social and non-social changes as classes of cultural change, and distinguish the social as a relational dynamics that conserves love in its operations. The matriztic perspective of Maturana and Dávila, which rests on the notion of a biological-cultural matrix of human existence, is a view on culture that focuses on emotions, and could lead to a deeper understanding of these processes. The focus on the importance of the Moravian ethics provides a key to the emotional configuration of the Miskitu culture.

The Moravian church is a protestant church, which arrived to the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua in the 1880s, and has had a strong impact on Miskitu society, in virtually every aspect of everyday life. I will argue that an adequate understanding of the importance of the Moravian ethic is crucial in order to understand social change among the Miskitu, as a change which has conserved the social as a central dynamics in the relational matrix, which originates, realizes and conserves it. This approach is useful in order to understand the collective mobilizations in the 1980s, when many Miskitu joined the Contras, as well as the rise of collective action with regard to local communal land and water since the 1990s.

Department of Sociology, University of Halmstad, Box 823, 30118 Halmstad, Sweden.
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Louis Klein and Alexander Kiehne, Systemic Consulting Group, Germany
Being a Post-modern Organisation

E-mail: Louis.Klein@scgroup.de

The experience of post-modernity has arrived in organisations. Contingency and the quest for meaningful orientation are becoming a major concern not only for the individual but also for organisations and their management. They grew from psychic systems into social systems. The paper argues that organisation theory could learn from Personal Mastery. To face challenges of post-modernity psychic and social systems alike need to establish processes of self-recognition and self-creation, like personal coaching, thus to generate stability and meaningful orientation through processes of self-observation and self-description. An organisation being an organisation observes and describes itself as an organisation. However the possibility to do so under circumstances of post-modernity is drowned in questioning legitimacy. It does not allow one-dimensional approaches like a purpose oriented hierarchy. Observation, description and meaningful sense-making now is multi-perspective and poly-central.

The systems theory perspective gives insight into the autopoiesis of organisations, into the concrete practise of self-recognition and self-creation based on self-observation and self-description that create the very organisation. The question is: What do they do to create themselves and how could they conceive of doing that differently? The concept of Organisational Mastery refers to the process competence in oscillating between self-recognition and self-creation. It explores the ways of self-observation and the conditions for self-creation. It highlights the interventional implications of observation and it shows how decisions organise organisations. It throws a radical focus on presence and practice.

Marienstraße 20, 10117 Berlin, Germany
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Morten Knudsen, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Autolysis – An Operation-Analytical Observation of ”Noise out of Order”

E-mail: mk.ioa@cbs.dk

The paper demonstrates how systems theory as developed by Niklas Luhmann can be opened to empirical analyses of noise and noise-creating mechanisms. The basic analytical strategy of the paper is to observe the operations that make up social systems. The paper argues that this makes the analysis sensitive to lack of connectivity and to the active creation of noise (defined as operations not gaining connectivity). In other words, that this opens the analysis to systemic autolysis (self-dissolvement). An operational analysis of organised communication is carried out using the ”Leitdifferenz” operation/recursivity. A single case is analysed and four mechanisms that actively create noise instead of communication are identified.

The paper is divided into five parts: An outline of the basic concepts used for the study of noise (I). A case study of decisions in a health care organisation provides examples of organisational noise (decisions that lack connectivity) (II). The case study shows an active creation of noise and four noise creating mechanisms are identified (III). It is discussed how the organisation observes the noise it creates (IV). Finally, we discuss the fruitfulness of the study of operations and autolytic mechanisms (V).

Department of Organization and Industrial Sociology, Kilen, Kilevej 14A, 2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
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Isabel Kusche, University of Bielefeld, Germany
Media Democracy as Description of the Relation Between Media and Politics: Self-observation of the Media System and its Consequences

E-mail: isabel.kusche@uni-bielefeld.de

Research in the field of political communication has diagnosed a massive transformation of the political system due to the influence of mass media. The political system attempts to keep its dependence on the mass media under control by increasing its public relations activities. As this implies following the rules guiding media attention, the result is supposed to be a loss of political substance and, consequently, a surge in business for political consultants. The paper proposes an account of the rise of political consultants based on the idea of operationally closed autopoietic function systems, thereby rejecting the idea of direct causal effects between media and politics. Empirically, diagnoses claiming that the political system has no substance are far from new. New is the attention such diagnoses receive, especially within the media system.

On the level of first-order observation, the media system takes a special interest in political consultants with a media background. On the level of second-order observation, the old formula of ‘public opinion’, describing the relation between politics and mass media, is partly replaced by the fashionable idea of ‘media democracy’. The paper will show that this new description is primarily anchored in the mass media system, but has effects on the political system as well. On the level of political operations, it fosters the interest in the potential of political consultants and their techniques. The result is a self-reinforcement of the idea of media democracy as the mass media (and social science) observe this growing relevance of political consulting.

Fakultät für Soziologie, Universitätsstraße 25, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany
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Johannes A. Landsheer, Cor van Dijkum, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands,
Modeling Feedback Relations in the Development of Delinquency During Adolescence and Early Adulthood with an Auto-regressive Growth Curve

E-mail: j.a.landsheer@fss.uu.nl

Research of time dependent behavior such as the development of delinquency requires the collection of longitudinal data over the complete period of interest. In the practice of longitudinal survey design, data is collected that often covers a shorter period than the full period of interest. In this study an accelerated panel study has been used with multiple age-cohorts to overcome the fragmentation of such data. The data are analyzed with an auto-regressive growth model on the basis of discrete and continuous time, using the structural equation-modeling (SEM) program Mx.

We have tried to reconstruct the time-varying process of the development of delinquent behavior, commonly depicted in the age-crime curve, differentiated according to gender, and in a feedback relation with another time-varying variable: the changing attitude towards delinquency.

Department of Methodology and Statistics, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 1, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
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Lauren Langman, Saher Salod, Loyola University of Chicago, USA
Papyrus, Paper and the Public Sphere: CMC and the Means of Social Transformation

E-mail: llang944@aol.com

As Habermas argued, the various emancipatory ideas of the Enlightenment were circulated through books, letters and pamphlets and debated in the “bourgeois public spheres” from salons to coffee houses to pubs. Following notions of “popular sovereignty”, the bourgeois revolutions would become “world historical moments” when the masses became citizens of the new bourgeois Nations, and the citizens became soldiers spreading bourgeois hegemony - aka imperialism. But the public spheres where “undistorted” communication might be possible, where people might engage in debates, contracted and all but disappeared, colonized by commercialism. Globalization, is highly dependent on its advanced Computer Mediated Communication technologies. But dialectically understood, the same architecture has enabled new forms of communication and mobilization in face of massive impoverishment, environmental despoliation and human rights abuses.

In response, we have witnessed counter-hegemonic, progressive Internet-worked Social Movements, organizations that are better considered “flows of flows” (Castells). The growth of cyberspace has encouraged a great deal of research and theory - unfortunately, little of that theorizing has been done from a sociological context. Habermas’ approach to the “public sphere”, as locations in virtual realms, as sites of an emancipatory moment in face of the “colonization of the life world” by rational-technical interests, is foundational for a sociological theory of CMC. Further, the nature of CMC suggests an emergent, autopoietic system in which untainted information, dependent on democratic expressions of agency, has transformative value through the setting of new goals.

Dept. of Sociology, Loyola University of Chicago, USA
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Loet Leydesdorff, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Modelling Anticipation, Codification, and Husserl’s Horizon of Meanings
E-mail: loet@leydesdorff.net

Social order does not exist as a stable phenomenon, but can be considered as "an order of reproduced expectations" thus, generating a non-linear dynamics of meaning. Although specific meaning can be stabilized, for example, in social institutions, all meaning arises from a global horizon of possible meanings. Using Luhmann's social systems theory and Rosen's (biological) theory of anticipatory systems, I submit algorithms for modeling the exchange of meaning in social systems and the non-linear dynamics of expectations. First, a self-referential system can use a model of itself for the anticipation. Under the condition of functional differentiation, the social system can be expected to entertain a multitude of models; each model also contains a model of all other models.

Two anticipatory mechanisms are then possible: one transversal between the models, and a longitudinal one providing the system with this variety of meanings. A system containing two anticipatory mechanisms can become hyper-incursive. Without making decisions, however, a hyper-incursive system would be overloaded with uncertainty. Under this pressure, informed decisions replace "natural preferences" of agents. Action and organization are increasingly transformed into decision-making structures because of uncertainty prevailing in interactions among differently codified reconstructions of meaning.

East Indies House (OIH), Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Manuel Lisboa, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal,
Desigualdade de género e teoria da acção social - o público e o privado no caso português

E-mail: m.lisboa@fcsh.unl.pt

Two questions guide the present communication. How does the inequality of gender roles limit social action? Which are the social-cultural factors that contribute for the structuration of those roles? We stand by the argument that the inequality of the gender roles runs through every segment of the social action were the feminine and the masculine social actors might be in interaction or are represented, in both a macro or micro level, and also in the public or private sphere. The systematic analyses in all these different social spheres allows us to detect that, beyond the specificities found in each context, there are common aspects related to the social and cultural systems and that they should be imputed to the existing social structure.

This theoretic reflection, is based on the results of several sociological researches made in Portugal in the past decade, first in the public sphere, as is the case of a research entitled Women’s Participation in the Economic and Political Elites; and secondly in more private spaces as those in which domestic violence occurs. We should question the values, the beliefs and the social norms, in each context, that create a system of expected behaviors, for both men and women, that if they are not fulfilled, are most likely to be, at a social level, negatively judged and evaluated (both implicitly and explicitly).

Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 1069-061 Lisbon, Portugal
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Hellmut Löckenhoff, Research Consulting, Germany
Grounding Transcultural Dialogue: An Approach to Intercultural Discourse

E-mail: Loeckenhoff.HellK@t-online.de

Dynamics of change grow with worldwide connectivity and dependency, with competition in economics as well as in culture and scarce resources within diminishing space. As a means of rational survival and development science faces increasingly complex practical challenges: complexity in dynamics, in causation and variables. In addition power shift, ideological, religious and basic cultural differences force any task oriented approach to employ various scientific disciplines differing in assumptions, models, methods and not least in language. Both the instrumental quality of science for society as its ability to co-operate between disciplines call for a grounded transdisciplinary approach. Research and sequential modelling/ simulation will be needed also for long range, sustainable policy support.

The proposed fundamental model of transdisciplinarity bases on first, the (formal) Systems model embracing related basic formal concepts. Environment and embodiment indicate the emergence of dynamics on the second, the Evolution level. Autopoiesis and ‘attractors’ lead to the third level of Complexity. Communication and intention signify, fourth, the dynamics of Meaning in Semiodynamics. Human language and culture stimulate mental constructs and qualia in the belief and spiritual fifth level, Noosphere. The non-conclusive models permeate each other, building rather a network than a hierarchy. Existing scientific models are to be integrated.

The proposed model provides a systemic and open frame for shared transdisciplinary semiotics, models and evaluation systems. They constitute in particular the condition for a transcultural model, for grounded Intercultural Research and for Transcultural Policy. As any societal institution, science emerges from culture and the values behind.

Research Consulting. Ossietzky 14, D-71522 Backnang, Germany
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Kathleen S. Long, Optima Research Group, Inc., USA
Dancing With Demons: Pathogenic Problem Solving Systems

E-mail: Kathy@OptimaConsulting.com

Criminality, poverty, illiteracy, addiction and child abuse are some of society's most acute and intractable problems. Despite countless attempted remedies, these complex social problems have continued to grow around the world. Although we have developed systems to address these problems, their operation routinely increases problem severity and scope. They are, in effect, perfectly designed to grow the very pathologies which they were designed to eliminate.

To confront these paradoxical outcomes, I took a trans-disciplinary approach to develop a new systemic view for designing systems to cope with the emergent meta-problems. Anchored in second-order cybernetics, this research re-contextualized the problem within a self-reproductive economy of interaction and meaning-making, drawing its boundaries on the basis of its systemic operations and conditions of connectivity across intersecting roles related to the problem-solver, the problem host and the identified problem itself.

The result is a model of pathogenesis as nested interactions appearing iteratively from individual to societal levels, revealing a self-referential, recursive and paradoxical structure. Within the multitude of self-referential systems, both biological and social, this research provides a new framework which exposes those factors that initiate, reinforce, escalate and perpetuate unintended evolutionary consequences and identifies specific alterations required to systemically produce beneficial results.

Optima Research Group, PO Box 391401, Mountain View, CA 94039, USA
Fax: 408-273-6515


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Margarita Maass Moreno, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico
Análisis del volumen y composición social del capital de tres generaciones de mexicanos del siglo XX: Reflexiones de segundo orden desde una metodología sociocibernética (Analysis of the volume and social composition of the capital of three 20th cenntury generations of Mexicans: second-order reflections about a sociocybernetic methodology)

E-mail: maass@labcomplex.net

This paper presents the methodological reflections of a wider empirical study focusing on memories and social capitals of three generations in Mexico. The study investigated the relationships between the three generational groups, their access to, and reception of, different media technologies, and how these affected the construction of their media memories. I show how social class, gender and age, and different media technologies (such as radio, television and the internet) interact to form media memories of ‘global’ events. Access to, and familiarity with, these material support systems combined with the social distribution of specific kinds of cognitive dispositions are the key conditions for making sense of media messages. Contesting some assumptions about the ‘globality’ of media messages and experiences, this article’s conclusions and findings provide empirical evidence of a more complex situation. The study found only a limited ‘global’ effect on the lower social classes, who form the majority of the population; in contrast, it was the privileged social classes of peripheral countries who ‘behaved’ in a global way and expressed their memories as ‘global’.

Keywords: • social capital • methodology • media generations • media memory • Mexico • symbolic ecologies • technology as social vector • globalization

LabCOMplex CEIICH – UNAM, Torre II de Humanidades 6o Piso, Ciudad Universitaria México D.F., Mexico
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Chaime Marcuello-Servós, Univ. of Zaragoza, Spain (presence not confirmed)
The 3rd Generation Innovation Policy of the European Union: A Critical and Systemic Reading

E-mail: chaime@posta.unizar.es

Innovation is a fuzzy concept. Nobody has the key to switch on and get the successful innovations. But there are many institutions working on its “causalities”. All of them, implicitly, assume that the consequences of innovation are directly connected with the “exploitation of new ideas”, of course, in the markets. And their evaluations are positive if innovations produce benefits, but many times, these valuations forget the social dimension. The innovation strategies are built, at least, in two directions. First, inside the firms which want to win in global markets. Second, from Governmental Administrations as policies of R+D+I which want to improve their economies, and subsequently their standards of living. The European Union (EU) is one of the international references in this field.

This paper attempts a critical reading of EU Innovation Policies. These policies build a theoretical framework to justify the investment of public budgets. And also, they drive the policies of the member states and their local priorities in their innovation strategies. The lights and good figures are enough spread. However, we consider it relevant to review the shadows of their innovation theories. Finally, we want to posit the question about social innovation without market profit, i.e. without an objective of “commercial exploitation”.

The paper is organized in three parts. First, an introduction: with the objectives, methodology and framework. Second a review of the evolution of the EU Innovation Policies: from its 1st generation to the named 3rd generation. Third, conclusions: with a special remark about people, more than markets.

Universidad de Zaragoza, Departamento de Psicología y Sociología, E.U.Estudios Sociales. Violante de Hungría, 23, 50009, Zaragoza,Aragón-Spain
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Janet McIntyre, Flinders University, Australia
Healing Pathways - Rescuing The Enlightenment from Itself: Implications for Addressing Democracy Through Improved Collaboration and Knowledge Management

Email: janet.mcintyre@flinders.edu.au

The project is called: “Healing Pathways: Building Workforce Capacity to Address Complex Health, Housing and Social Inclusion Issues through through improved collaboration and knowledge management”. This is a collaboration involving the SA Health Department, Flinders University, University of South Australia and Neporendi Forum Inc( an Aboriginal NGO) and assistance from Anglicare , a non Aboriginal NGO.
‘Goodness of fit’ between users and providers is important to achieve successful outcomes for complex problems. This research strives to use participatory action research to design and create a computer system that will enable people who are facing emotional challenges such as homelessness, unemployment, domestic violence to think about their situation and to make connections in a number of ways:
&Mac183; Extend conceptual insight through 'mental walk throughs' (see McIntyre 2003, 2004, based on their own design.
&Mac183; Map cultural knowledge in a dialectical manner that is responsive and respectful of different ontologies or ways of seeing and diverse circumstances.
&Mac183; Develop better interpersonal and cross cultural communication outcomes with service providers.
&Mac183; Establish some intercultural links whilst preserving cultural safety and to build social connections.
&Mac183; Achieve more accountable service outcomes. The paper (RC 51) explains how narratives (discussed in RC10) are used to design a computer system to assist greater understanding based on ‘what if’ scenarios.

Keywords: Creativity, systemic communication, democracy and wisdom

Senior Lecturer, Flinders Institute of Public policy and management, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5000
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Armando de Melo Lisboa, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brasil
A construção da identidade: caminho para superação da desigualdade

E-mail: alisboa@matrix.com.br

The dramatic dilemma of Latin America derives from its established cepalino (??) cephalic ?? economic model founded in the substitution of importation and the use of foreign technological packages. Our subordinate insertion in world-wide capitalism led to the destruction of natural resources and the increase of inequality. This development paradigm is depleted.

The confrontation with the Latin-American tragedy demands the rupture with our brutally colonial position. The value attributed to the basic matter is considered trivial in the world-wide economy: The industrialized North, poor in biodiversity, does not give the proper value to the wealth of natural resources. Dependence and inequality are the two sides of the same coin. In the 21st century remains the question of the construction of our identity: who are we?

The divorce between the adopted economic policies and our baroque cultural matrix generated modernism without modernization, modernity without integral development. It refuses the supposedly universal model of modernization that confuses modernity with mere mimetic industrialization. Our form of entering modernity cannot be based on technologies that ignore our singularities. The tropical countries had adopted inadequate techniques to its exuberant ecological reality and cultural diversity, despising the abundance of light, heat and humidity.

The way for a civilization situated in the tropics to develop in a solidary and emancipated way is by the exploitation of the biomass. This finds itself dispersed, being able to be locally appropriate and profitable for small producers. The production of biodiesel, a renewable, clean and decentralized energy source, can create millions of jobs in the short term through nets of cooperatives.

Dpto. de Ciências Econômicas, Centro Sócio Econômico, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina – UFSC, 88040-900 Florianópolis (SC), Brasil
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Czeslaw Mesjasz, Cracow University of Economics, Poland
The Concept of Self-Reference and Theory of Information Society

E-mail: mesjaszc@ae.krakow.pl

Following development of information technology and resignation of modernist approaches in social theory, social sciences face new challenges at the epistemological level and in any policy-oriented discourse. Those challenges are reflected by the consequences of reflexivity, self-reflexivity, and subsequently, by self-reference. Therefore, in the discussion on theoretical foundations of social sciences more attention should be paid to the definitions of self-reference. The main aim of the paper is to provide a survey of the areas of social systems theory where the concept of self-reference is and could be applied.

The following issues will be discussed in detail: conceptual foundations of self- reflexivity and self-reflexivity – a survey of definitions and interpretations, main areas of the impact of self-reference upon social theory – past ideas and possible new areas of applications, the role of self-reference, reflexivity and self-reflexivity in theories of “information society”, elaboration of a typology of applications of self-referential approaches in social theory, beginning from the individual cognitive level to social communication, a survey of applications of specific concepts of self-reference in attempts to elaborate new theoretical approaches to “information society”.

Cracow University of Economics, ul. Rakowcka 27, 31-510 Kraków, Poland
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Vessela Misheva, Uppsala University, Sweden
Sociological Systems Theory and its Philosophical Problems: The Theory of Medium from Kant to Heider and Luhmann

E-mail: Vessela.Misheva@soc.uu.se

This paper presents a discussion of the philosophical foundations of Luhmann's systems theory. It is intended to be a continuation of Habermas' discussion in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity of systems theory's "unhappy" choice of methodology that also provides a more careful examination of Fritz Heider's theory of the medium. The notion of systems medium found in Luhmann's work is analyzed in relation to and against the background of the theoretical ideas of his predecessors. In light of the philosophical problems that Luhmann encountered in this respect, the conclusion is drawn that the main problems of sociological systems theory and its supposedly anti-humanist methodology are consequent to Luhmann's choice in respect to the conceptualization of the medium. The problems of sociological systems theory as a theoretical construction of society with unsustainable pretensions to universality are thus viewed as rooted in its philosophical foundations and in the problematic nature of Luhmann's efforts to construct a legitimate theory of medium (matter) from an idealistic philosophical point of view.

Department of Sociology, Uppsala University, Box 624, SE-751 26 Uppsala, Sweden
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Vessela Misheva, Uppsala University, Sweden
The mass media as a social system
E-mail: Vessela.Misheva@soc.uu.se

The paper offers a conception of the mass media system as a stage in the development of the autopoietic system of society and as a unique type of social system in that it is more than an autopoietic system and less than an autopoietic system. This conclusion is reached on the basis of an analysis of Luhmann's The Reality of the Mass Media against the background of his sociological project as a whole. The theoretical significance of certain differences between the system of the mass media and other autopoietic systems, from which Luhmann's analysis had to abstract, are examined. The peculiarity of the mass media as a social system is explained as consequent to their unique social function. The assumption is that this function has less to do with service to the person, or even service to the public, and more to do with service to other functional social systems. It is argued that the mass media represent a "generalized other" for all social systems. They thus appear as an important factor in the "socialization" of social systems, in making them aware of the consequences of their actions, and in the introducing into them of other-referential concerns.

Department of Sociology, Uppsala University, Box 624, SE-751 26 Uppsala, Sweden
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Georg P. Mueller, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
The Dynamics of Social Inequality as an Iterated Game with Feedbacks on the Payoff-Structure

E-mail: Georg.Mueller@unifr.ch

In conventional mathematical game theory, payoff-structures are often considered as constant. For the modeling of social processes, this assumption is insofar not very realistic, as the payoff-structures of iterated games can also be influenced by phenomena of social change, which result from the strategic decisions of the players of these games. Consequently, this paper analyzes for the exemplary case of the dynamics of income inequality, how the behavior of the involved players changes the social structure and how these changes have feedback effects on the payoff-matrix of the underlying game.

In the aforementioned example, the players of the iterated game are assumed to represent the privileged and the economically deprived segments of the national population. Both groups are obviously interested in higher shares of the national income at the expense of the other party. The model assumes that both parties have a choice between two alternative strategies, representing an active pursuit of these group interests and a rather passive “laissez faire” policy. The pair of the chosen strategies changes not only the income inequality but also the payoff-structure and thus influences the outcome of the next round of the iterated game. This paper also analyzes the consequences of the mentioned feedback-mechanisms for the dynamics of the interpersonal income inequality and makes theory-based ex-post predictions, which are subsequently tested with the Gini-values of 60 industrial and post-industrial countries. The results of these empirical tests seem to confirm the game theoretic assumptions of this paper as well as the derived inferences about the dynamics of interpersonal income inequality.

Dept. of Social Sciences, University of Fribourg, Bvd de Perolles 90, CH-1700 Fribourg, Switzerland
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Matjaz Mulej, Zdenka Îenko, Vojko Potocan, Nastja Mulej, University of Maribor, Slovenia
Capacity of Companies to Absorb Suggestions from Government: The Case of Invention from Research Organizations in Europe, e.g. in Slovenia

E-mail: mulej@uni-mb.si

Europe lacks innovation and competitiveness. Reasons include defensive businesses' responses to governments’ and EU's suggestions. Governments and EU lack innovation/holism in their actions, while requiring innovation and systems thinking. Political power-holders forget they must persuade rather than command. Their theoretical consultants may propose the right way, but lack persuasive ways to make their ideas become innovations. Economists expect too much from institutions.

We suggest the following to make businesses more responsive: (1) Feeling of interdependence preconditions practicing systems approach. (2) Government (including public organizations), as a big buyer in the modern buyers market, should require suppliers’ innovativeness. (3) Government people should become role models by non-technological innovations concerning their own work processes and networking in shared work-network. (4) To develop this capacity, governments, parliament members, and government officials, on all hierarchical levels and in all public service organizations, need training and practice in non-technological innovating, including creative co-operation by USOMID/6 Thinking Hats method. (5) Innovation management is applied avoiding imposing novelties and involves novelty users in making them, (6) considers diffusion of innovations, with (7) heart storming methodology to persuade and attract. In Slovenia, in 2005-6, the government attempts to introduce economic reforms as inventions aggressively rather than co-operatively. It may fail.

Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Maribor, Razlagova 20, SI-2000 Maribor, Slovenia
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Philippos Nicolopoulos, University of Crete and University of Indianapolis, Athens Campus, Greece
Sustainable Touristic Development in Rural Areas: The Issue of Carrying Capacity and Applications of Systems Theory

E-mail: nicolop@otenet.gr

Sustainable touristic development intends to avoid degradation of natural, social and cultural ecosystems. In rural areas the need for a specific balance between manmade systems (MMS) and natural ecosystems (NES) is very important, because their natural capital and beauty constitute their main "wealth" and "attractive" advantage for alternative and qualitative tourism (AQT). That capital should be conserved for ecological tourism and for the broader ecological balance of the areas concerned. Its conservation is a prerequisite for their sustainanability. Nevertheless, that subtle balance is not realized easily, because those areas are pushed by business circles and public organizations to new developments and new profits. Investors search for new "virgin" areas where the development implemented (and especically the investments in tourism) tend to exceed the limits of their carrying capacity (CC). Thus in many cases tensions are created concerning the limits of CC.

The CC principle (a principle of the sustainable development process) should be taken into account, when dealing with touristic investments. Any developmental activity of MMS should not transcend certain limits in a concrete area with concrete limited resourses. NES and MMS have a finite capacity and tolerance and their limits refer to both of them. Beyond those limits destabilization and entropic tendencies appear in MMS and NES. Thus, the CC issue should be approached in a quantitative and qualitative way. When the total environment of MMS and NES (in which the investment is realized and which, to some extent, is the result of the investment) is very complex, there is a need for a control system with higher complexity than the complexity of the environment. From that perspective systems theory and principles and methods of cybernetics and sociocybernetics are very useful scientific instruments, especially Ashby's "Law of Requisite Variety " and methods which are closely related to it.

University of Indianapolis, Athens Campus, Karneadou 28, 10675 Athens, Greece
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Han Oud, Toni Toharudin, Jaak Billiet, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Three Standard Procedures for Assessing Feedback Relationships in Social Science: A Comparison Illustrated by Ethnocentrism, Individualism and Nationalism in Flanders

E-mail: j.oud@ped.kun.nl

In the analyses of the Flanders longitudinal election study theoretical sociological concepts are central: ethnocentrism, utilitarian individualism, religiousness, national identity, subnational awareness, attitude to foreigners. A first research question about these variables is descriptive: are ethnocentrism, individualism, and nationalism increasing or decreasing in Flanders over time? An immediate next question, however, is whether these variables are causally related and, if so, whether the relationships show the reciprocity of feedback loops.

Practically, it makes a lot of difference, whether variables are ordered in a causal chain or influence and enhance each other reciprocally. It is as a result of feedback relationships that systems may show stability and acquire equilibrium states. In spite of the central place of the feedback concept in science, including sociocybernetics and sociology, there is no unanimity in the way feedback relationships should be analyzed and estimated in research practice.

In this contribution, first, SEM state space modelling of panel data (Oud, 2004) will be compared to the latent growth curve (LGC) model. Then the cross-lagged panel design, a special discrete time case of the state space model, will be discussed. The problems of both approaches are solved by means of the continuous time state space model, using stochastic differential equations. This is advantageous especially in cross-cultural research, where observation intervals are seldom equal.

Radboud Universiteit, Comeniuslaan 4, 6525 HP Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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Michael Paetau, Fraunhofer Institute for Autonomous Intelligent Systems, Germany
Niklas Luhmann and Cybernetics

E-mail: paetau@ais.fraunhofer.de

Niklas Luhmann referred in many respects to cybernetic principles, but without declaring his own approach as a sociocybernetic one. However, it is legitimate to classify Luhmann's Theory of Social Systems into the field of sociocybernetic approaches, even if the relationship between systems theory and cybernetics is still not clearly defined in every way, and even if it is not clearly defined whether Luhmann fits the cybernetic principles into his theory rather idiosyncratically and partly after some significant revisions. In my paper initially I derive the criteria which define a theory as a cybernetic one, afterwards I reconstruct Luhmann's critical debate on the most important theoretical problems of cybernetics and finally I sketch out Luhmann’s answer to this debate, which he gives in his own concepts.

As a result can be shown Luhmann’s relation to cybernetics in a twofold sense: First, the connectivity to cybernetics is highly significant for the Theory of Social Systems, and second, Luhmann's system theory as a special type of sociological thinking can be integrated into the spectrum of the approaches of the »New Cybernetics«. This can be shown by discussing the principle of circularity, the concept of system and the system/environment relation and the role of information in Luhmann's theory.

Fraunhofer Institute for Autonomous Intelligent Systems (AIS), Schloss Birlinghoven, D-53754 Sankt Augustin, Germany
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Francisco Parra-Luna, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
Cervantes’ Novel Don Quixote as a System: The Emergence of the “Place of La Mancha”

E-mail: parraluna@cps.ucm.es

The recent discovery of the “place of la Mancha” in Cervantes’ novel,” Don Quixote” is maybe one of the best examples of the capacity of Systems Theory to discover hidden aspects of complex objects. Let us start saying that a system is an interrelated set of elements organized for a final purpose: what is exactly the novel of “Don Quixote”, as a set of sentences, distances, times and villages which are interrelated in such a way so as to produce new insight into the location of the place of la Mancha? The initial scientific problem is that no scientific works are known to have been written on the subject

An example of this power of emergency could be obtained through the following “kitchen recipe”: a) select the most significant variables and dimensions of the whole system related to the problem; b) put them together in a saucepan; and c) stir them according to systemic rules. You will get a product (new knowledge) emerging from the mixture, which was not present in any of the individual dimensions and variables introduced. The process could be called the same as the systemic formula VARIABLES +SYSTEMIC RULES=EMERGENCE, with Villanueva de los Infantes as the place of la Mancha. Currently, a team of mathematicians of the University of Valencia, Spain and myself are trying to carry out the following complementary research, attempting: 1) to verify the result of Villanueva de los Infantes, starting from different types of measurements of geographical distances, and 2) to find which is the exact riding speed of Don Quixote’s and Sancho Panza’s mounts.

Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria - 28040 Madrid, Spain
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Vojko Potocan, Matjaz Mulej, University of Maribor, Slovenia
Systemic Understanding of Trust and Ethics of Interdependence in Innovative Business

E-mail: mulej@uni-mb.si

Business practice proves that innovative business (= business style based on innovation rather than routine) tends to yield much more value added than a routine-based one. Humans, enterprises and other organizations, that enter business relations, can from this viewpoint be considered business systems (BS).

Organizations as BSs face two important challenges, at least: 1) How to satisfy demanding customer’s needs, and 2) How to make their own business requisitely innovative to make customers happier with it than with competitor's supplies. Synergy of findings from treatment of both challenges, says that one-sided professionals / humans fail to perceive their need for systemic / holistic / requisitely holistic thinking resulting and from conditioning of cooperation and success.

It is helpful to develop and maintain mutual trust beyond borders of single jobs / professions / cultures. In this effort, it makes sense to consider mutual interdependence and synergetic effects of (1) personality traits, (2) professional cultures, (3) job cultures, (4) department cultures, (5) cultures prevailing in BSs, (6) local communities, (7) regions, (8) nations, and (9) beyond their borders. In this framework it is an ethic of inter-dependence, which fortifies the bases for mutual trust. Trust can also be abused, which happens more easily when one-way dependence and lack of reliability replace interdependencies. On its basis, trust results from practical experience with positive outcomes of mutual complementing by mutual differences. This leads to informal systems thinking and applies to decision-making and action as well resulting in requisite holism resulting in BS success.

Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Maribor, Razlagova 20, SI-2000 Maribor, Slovenia
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Andreas Pickel, Trent University, Canada
After General Systems Theory: Systemic Ontology, Epistemology, and Methodology for the Social Sciences

E-mail: apickel@trentu.ca

This paper sharply distinguishes between general systems theory (Parsons, Luhmann, et al.) which is of limited usefulness, and a systemic approach which is promising but underdeveloped, in the social sciences. It argues that a systemic ontology needs to be coupled with mechanisms-based explanation, and that mechanisms-based explanation (e.g. Tilly et al.) works best when coupled with a systemic approach. Social systems are concrete entities whose basic properties, mechanisms and environments can differ fundamentally.

A general systems theory in the social sciences is therefore at best insufficient and in many cases misleading. This seems to be widely accepted in the social sciences where the use of the concept “system” to refer to social entities, other than in a loose, colloquial sense, is viewed with suspicion. Instead, social wholes are variously and confusingly referred to as structures, institutions, networks, fields, spaces, sites, configurations, contexts, situations, etc. The ontology of mechanisms as concrete processes in real (material) social systems is not a well-established schema in the social sciences. The paper discusses the schema with reference to specific examples and concludes by considering the kinds of explanation we can expect from a systemic and mechanistic approach.

Dept. of Political Studies, Trent University, 1600 West Bank Drive, Peterborough, Ontario, K9J 7B8 Canada
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Lars Qvortrup, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
The Concept of “Knowledge” in the Knowledge Society and Religion as 4th Order Knowledge

E-mail: larsq@knowledgelab.sdu.dk

Most theories of knowledge society do not suggest an explicit concept of knowledge, and if they do, the concept is a narrow one, restricting knowledge to certified knowledge. This paper defines knowledge as confirmed observations. When I observe something and then repeat my observation with the same result it becomes a confirmed observation and thus personal knowledge. When I observe something and another person confirms this observation it becomes social knowledge.

Based on this definition of knowledge, knowledge can be categorised into four forms: 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th order knowledge, depending on the order of reflexivity. First order knowledge is simple knowledge: Knowledge about something. Second order knowledge is knowledge about knowledge, i.e. recursive or situative knowledge. Third order knowledge is knowledge about knowledge about knowledge, i.e. knowledge about the preconditions for recursive knowledge. Fourth order knowledge represents the social evolution of knowledge, i.e. the collective and perhaps unconscious knowledge process and the total knowledge potential.

Finally, the paper will discuss whether 4th order knowledge can inform our understanding of religion. In order to do so the paper compares St. Augustine’s classical Trinitarian formula with the category of 4th order knowledge.

Knowledge Lab, SDU Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense, Denmark
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Marie-Noelle Sarget, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, France
Systemic Approach of Art: The Example of Painting

E-mail: Marie-Noelle.Sarget@ehess.fr
Website: http://www.mn-sarget.com/

A systemic approach supposes not to isolate the studied object, but look at it in its environment. In that prospect, art won't be perceived as an ideal object, but placed in context where it appeared and developed. The artist, important actor in the cultural system, is conditioned by the social systems of his time, and a product of them. He depends on the economic system, from which he takes out his means to live, and on the scientific and technological systems. He is also marked by his social surroundings, nature of cultural system, moral or religious dominating traditions and values...

The work of art may be itself considered as a system. I'll start from my own practice of painting to show that its achievement depends on correspondancies between a plurality of elements such as theme, forms and content, materials, colors, manner; the result is an emergence of the totality of the different systems implicated. The work of art, part of the cultural system, play a great part in innovation, creation of new shapes, invention of other ways to see and think, marginality being frequently the price of dissent.

But artistic action is, too, economic, social, and more and more, political as attest most recent forms of contemporary art, such as conceptual art, where the picture is replaced by political or sociological discourses,

A systemic and socio-cybernetic approach of art may offer new interpretative frameworks, to explain better the complexity of the stakes and debates around it.

25 Avenue Bolviller, 91800, Brunoy, France
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Leo M. Semashko, Russia, Public Institute of Strategic Sphere (Tetrasociological) Studies, Russia)
The Tetrasociological Approach: Six Sociocybernetic Innovations for an Information Society

E-mail: semashko4444@mail.admiral.ru

Tetrasociology is a four-dimensional, holistic and interdisciplinary theory of an information (global) society of four equally productive sphere classes - partners, self-organized as a cybernetic system, aspiring to a natural order of social harmony (Leo Semashko. Tetrasociology: Responses to Challenges. 2002; www.peacefromharmony.org ).

On the basis of the four social reproductive spheres, tetrasociology predicts six Sociocybernetic innovations for an information society.
1. Sphere classes of the population employed in the appropriate spheres of social reproduction: Socioclass, Infoclass, Orgoclass, Technoclass, which self-identification transforms them in the conscious actors of social harmony,
2. Sphere democracy constructed on equal distribution of power between the sphere classes, generations, genders that makes such democracy by a state of social harmony,
3. Sphere sociological statistics that allow quantitative measurement of social harmony,
4. Sphere information-statistical technology for calculation of social harmony,
5. Sphere sociocultural technology of achievement and maintenance of social harmony,
6. Sphere strategic management ensuring governance by social harmony of spheres and sphere classes.

A self-organizing order of social harmony order arises when a priority is placed on the interests of children and their caregivers. These groups, which comprise from 50% to 80% of the population, will provide the social foundation for the natural harmonious order.
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Erkki Sevänen, University of Joensuu, Finland
Niklas Luhmann and Critical Theory: Non-Critical System Theory vs. Critical Systemic Sociology?

E-mail: erkki.sevanen@joensuu.fi

Through his writing, Niklas Luhmann attempted to impose limits on social criticism, on Enlightenment thinking and on radical movements that dreamt of the moral-practical perfection of society. Is, then, his thinking entirely devoid of critical elements? Luhmann himself held that “critical theorists” (Adorno, Habermas) observe society by means of distinctions such as authentic/manipulated and emancipated/oppressed, and they label other descriptions of society as ideological. Luhmann saw human minds as autopoietic systems that handle sense perceptions according to their own principles of operation – hence, human knowledge is not a mirror but a construct. Luhmann wished expressly to produce critical analyses of the distinctions and concepts through which sociologists observe society. Thus, his sociology is critical at the level of second-order observations, whereas critical theory is critical at the level of first-order observations.

For Luhmann the world as it shows itself to us is contingent in nature. Our picture of this world varies according to the kinds of distinctions and concepts that we apply to it. Luhmann argues that works of art help us to understand that everything that exists in our phenomenal world could also exist in another way – in other words, that this world could be constructed in different ways. Hence, it is the function of art to provide people with alternative models of the phenomenal world. In contrast, critical theory has understood works of art as an implicit or explicit criticism of the “instrumental rationality” prevailing in modern societies.

Department of Cultural Research, University of Joensuu, P.O. Box 111, 80101 Joensuu, Finland
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Karl-Heinz Simon, University of Kassel, Germany
Transitions Management – An Issue for Sociocybernetics?

E-mail: simon@usf.uni-kassel.de

In several national and international research activities the concept of transitions of technological and societal systems are addressed. These activities are completely interdisciplinary in nature and are based on a challenging and far-reaching synthesis of empirical (in part historical) and conceptual information and arguments. Up to now there is not much exchange of ideas between the transitions research community and scholars in social sciences, especially sociocybernetics. Citations show that only few facets of modern sociological systems theory are taken into consideration.

The paper will focus on two dominant theory architectures found in contemporary social systems theory. The first paradigm is based on first order cybernetics and uses concepts from the theory of dynamical systems. The second paradigm is based on evolutionary concepts, stressing that the idea of control of these kind of dynamics might be an illusion.

Despite these fundamental differences in theory design and concerning the capacity to anticipate and to explain, both approaches are referring to cybernetic roots and the founders of systems theory. The bifurcation point, where the two approaches are breaking up, is determined, the consequences of the different strands of theorizing for transitions management are discussed and the role of human action (and responsibility) is brought up for discussion.

Center for Environmental Systems Research, Kurt-Wolters-Strasse 3, 34109 Kassel, Germany
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Ana Thereza Nogueira Soares, Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil
The Information is not Necessary Anymore: The Codes of Mass Media Systems in Brazil

E-mail: anatsoares@gmail.com

This paper discusses the role of the mass media system in the construction of social reality. It starts from a Luhmannian statement, which considers that our knowledge about the society, and about the world, is obtained from mass media communications. Also, it is analyzed how, in some social contexts, political and economic systems promote a distortion related with the original binary code of mass media system: information/no information. I.e., it is depending on developing an accurate observation above the use of media like power and money by a system that, at least originally, should operate with the medium information.

The irritation coming from mass media system’s environment is very intense. Because of its social reach and credibility, the mass media system is considered as a path, by organizations and other systems, for gaining visibility and legitimacy. Therefore, could the relations between mass media system and political system, or between mass media system and economic system, be transformed in coupling diversion? An analysis of the Brazilian mass media system’s coverage of the referendum about the maintenance of weapons and ammunition in legal commerce, which took place in Brazil in October 2005, can help us to answer that question. A study of the three biggest Brazilian magazines news reporting in the process of communicating about the referendum seems to show that the power and the money of some political parties and organizations were the major codes for mass media organizations, and not the information.

Faculty of Communication and Arts, Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil
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Gerald Steiner, University of Graz, Austria
Innovative Performance of Organizations in Dependency on Workplace and Interior Design

E-mail: gerald.steiner@uni-graz.at

What stimulates the innovative performance and the happiness of people? Traditional climate inventories for organizations do not specifically consider the influence of the physical workplace and especially of interior design, but at most include them marginally within other dimensions.

By analyzing the historical developments of those two factors I first point out how they were widely neglected as an influential impact on the well-being of people, their motivation, their individual and collaborative performances, their creativity, their patterns of communication, and the efficiency of the organization’s work flows.
I propose a simple model based on the St. Gallen Management Model as an integrative systems methodology. By that the interaction of physical workplace and interior design with psychological factors - as expressed by some empirically based research instruments - and other organizational setting are pointed out.

The empirical results of the underlying investigation of a sample of around 120 international companies in the field of innovative product development largely support my assumptions concerning the need for a stronger consideration of the working place and interior design in order to provide for creative support for individuals as well as teams. Specific suggestions based on best-practice experiences finalize this paper.

Institute of Innovation and Environmental Management, University of Graz, Universitaetsstrasse 15, 8010 Graz, Austria
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Daniel F.M. Strauss, University of the Free State, South Africa
The Basic Concepts of Sociology Involved in System Theory

E-mail: dfms@cknet.co.za

Initially sociological system theory explored a holistic or universalistic mode of thought with particular emphasis on the idea of an organic (i.e. a biotical) whole and its (functional or dysfunctional) parts (systems and sub-systems). Its antipode is found in atomistic or individualistic modes of thought. The aim of this paper will be to show that although a human being may assume multiple roles in society the life of such a person is never exhausted by any one of them. In order to achieve this aim an analysis of crucial basic concepts of the discipline of sociology is required with a view to the limitations of the idea of a whole and its parts (systems and sub-systems) and to the illuminating effect of acknowledging what Münch has called the “own inner laws” of differentiated spheres of social life.

Against the background of the indispensable use of aspectual analogies in sociological theorizing and the revival of functionalism (Alexander and Münch), the basic idea of a differentiation theory – namely that room should be left for the “autonomy of subsystems of interaction which have their own rules” – will be explored with the aim to give an indication of the implications of such an understanding for the uniqueness and interlacement of multiple societal spheres of life over-coming the impasse of atomism and holism (the long-standing opposition of individual and society).

University of the Free State, Vista Main Campus, PO Box 380, 339 Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa
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Ole Thyssen, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark,
The Three Tempi of Globalisation

E-mail: ot.lpf@cbs.dk

Luhmann analyzes modern society as differentiated in functional subsystems, each of which has auto-developed as an attractor for specific problems and solutions. By defining "society" as the system of all communication, Luhmann has from the outset made globalization an integrated part of his theory of society. As a consequence, he is unable to identify the problems which arise because functional subsystems, private organisations and nation states are organized according to different principles and have different relations to stakeholders and to space and time.

Functional subsystems have no specific stakeholders, no relation to space, but an intimate relation to time. Their communications can take place with high speed and can easily be diffused all over the globe. Private organisations are located in physical space. As they only have one dominant goal, monetary profit, they have no solidarity towards any nation. They can easily move abroad and exclude members. Accordingly, they can move fast, even if their speed is slowed down by physical, social and geographical considerations.

Nation states are located in physical space and are unable to move abroad. They are unable to exclude members and have many kinds of responsibility towards them, especially regarding welfare. A nation can only move slowly, as many political considerations have to be balanced. In the paper, it is argued that all problems of globalization can be seen as consequences of these differences between the three different social systems.

Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School
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Sonja Treven, Matjaz Mulej, University of Maribor, Slovenia
Systemic Approach to the Encouragement of Innovativeness Through Employee Diversity Management

E-mail: mulej@uni-mb.si

Sociocybernetics is about understanding and mastering complexity in social settings. Management in any kind in organizations belongs to them. Among others, it faces problems resulting from over-generalization of theories presupposing quite uniform attributes of employees. For too long, the western tradition of thinking has been the one of confrontation and arguing for the upper hand of a one-sided view, rather than accepting diversity as a source of wealth. In reality, the labor force all around the world is becoming increasingly diverse.

Thus, organizations that manage employee diversity effectively may gain a competitive advantage. Researchers and practitioners find that effective employee diversity management depends on holism, which in turn depends on systems thinking. The dialectical system approach is what authors find very suitable and different from other approaches because it supports interdisciplinary cooperation very well. Effective employee diversity management may increase motivation, supportive emotions, ethics of interdependence, hence innovation and creativity, as well as diminish costs and negative employee attitudes, improve recruiting efforts, increase sales, market share and corporate profits as well as increase group / team problem solving.

On this basis, our attention is given to a great extent to studying the innovativeness (leading to competitive advantage in its turn) as one of the outcomes of requisitely holistic employee diversity management by using Dialectical Systemic approach. This approach supports socio-cybernetic thinking because it provides for authors’ and observers’ and managers’ attention to human attributes rather than for their tool of handling problems only. Innovation results from human team work, not from machines, but from creative co-operation of mutually diverse professionals in shared teams.



Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Maribor, Razlagova 20, SI-2000 Maribor, Slovenia
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Cor Van Dijkum, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Causality in the Social Sciences Revised: A Short History and Outlook to the Future

E-mail: c.vandijkum@fss.uu.nl

In the history of the social sciences, the concept of causality has always played an important role. Many efforts have been made to define this concept in a proper way and to make it usable for the practice of empirical research. But the concept of causality is still in discussion and tricky to handle in research. However, a revival of the discussion on causality can be observed. At the Fifth RC33 Conference on Social Science Methodology in 2000, a forum discussion was dedicated to the concept of causality. At RC51 conferences on Sociocybernetics the concept of circular causality, related to the concept of feedback, has been thoroughly discussed in a (systems) theoretical way.

In this paper a short history is given of how in the social sciences the idea of circular causality has been blocked by incorrect ideological reasoning. But, sound logical and mathematical reasoning can save us from those regressive ideologies. The concept of circular causality can be understood in the simple logic of recursive differential equations. Recent progress in advanced statistics makes it possible to handle those recursive differential equations in a statistical way. With this, the problem of the statistical validation of complex causal models can be solved in a sophisticated way.

Empirical case studies will illustrate those exercises in logical, mathematical and statistical reasoning about circular causality. Thereby it will be pointed out how (statistical) software such as Mathematica, Matlab, Stella, Powersim, Madonna and MX can support (future) researchers in their investigations of circular causality.


Department of Methodology and Statistics, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 1, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
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Johannes Van der Zouwen, Johannes H. Smit, Free University, of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Stasja Draisma, Free University Medical Centre, Department of Psychiatry, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Bidirectional Causality in Methods Research of Interviews with Standardized Questionnaires: Anticipation and Repair as Sources of Interviewer Effects

E-mail: j.van.der.zouwen@fsw.vu.nl

The paper explores the conditions under which methods research, concerning standardized questionnaires, can be based on unidirectional causality only, and when it should use designs that can also handle bidirectional causality.

If the questions in the questionnaire become quite difficult, self-administered questionnaires and computer-assisted telephone interviews have to be replaced by personal or diagnostic interviews. Here the interviewers are instructed to make attempts at repair of inadequate initial answers, and to anticipate problems respondents will encounter, by making the questions less difficult to answer. The exercise of these additional control tasks by the interviewers is investigated by a detailed analysis of question-answer sequences of part of a standardized interview with 233 elderly people. The questionnaire contained detailed, retrospective, questions about their physical activities. The four interviewers were professional research nurses.

The hypothesis is tested, and confirmed, that the more difficult the topic of the question is for this particular category of respondents, the more the interviewers will initiate repairs and use a deviating questioning strategy and, thus, the lower the proportion of paradigmatic sequences will be. There is a large interaction effect with interviewer number and only a small effect with respondent characteristics like age and physical condition.

Vrije Universiteit, Faculty of Social Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Kees Van Montfort, Frits Bijleveld, Siem-Jan Koopman, Jacques Commandeur, Free University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Nonlinear and Feedback Time Series Aspects of Road Safety Research

E-mail: kvmontfort@feweb.vu.nl

In this paper a multivariate nonlinear time series model for disaggregated road accident and exposure data allowing temporally missing disaggregations is developed.

The model is demonstrated in a case study of yearly time series of numbers of fatal accidents (inside and outside urban areas) and numbers of driven kilometers by motor vehicles in the Netherlands between 1961 and 2000. The model utilizes dynamic unobserved factors that represent exposure and risk, both for inside and outside urban areas. Disaggregated numbers of driven kilometers for inside and outside urban areas are not available in all years but the total aggregated numbers are.

The resulting multivariate nonlinear model is studied using the extended Kalman filter and related algorithms. Unknown parameters are estimated by quasi-maximum likelihood methods while unobserved factors are extracted using extended smoothing methods and are used for forecasting. The resulting model allows for extensions based on recent research into state space analysis.

De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Raf Vanderstraeten, University of Bielefeld, Germany
System and Environment: On Analysing the Characteristics of Modern Society

E-mail: raf.vanderstraeten@uni-bielefeld.de

Social differentiation means both a process and a structure. In structural terms, it refers to the fact that a unit of analysis, such as a society, consists of a number of distinct parts. These parts may be of the same kind, such as families, as the basic components of tribal societies. Or the parts may be different, such as the subsystems making up modern society (economy, politics, science, education, religion, etc.). As a process, social differentiation is the dynamic that brings about and changes a given structure of differentiation.

This paper focuses on the social differentiation of modern society. It will be argued that it makes no sense to understand the ensemble of societal subsystems as a division of labour. In a division of labour, the subsystems as parts are teleologically oriented towards the performance and maintenance of the whole society. The whole comes first, historically and logically, and decomposes itself for its own benefit. By contrast, it will be emphasized that social differentiation consists of a simultaneous birth and liberation of the parts. They emerge and become autonomous from each other and from the whole. Luhmann calls this the ‘polycontexturality’ of modern society.

Faculty of Sociology, University of Bielefeld, PO Box 100 131, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany

 

 

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