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Official Congress timetable and proposed tutorials

2006 9:00-12:00 13:30-15:30 15:45-17:45 18:00-20:00 20:00 till late
22 July
RC51 Tutorials:
1) Systems Theory &
2) Constructivism
3) Cyberculture
RC51 Tutorials
RC51 Tutorials

. .
23 July

RC51 Tutorials
4) Luhmanns Theory
5) Innovation
6) Methodology for
Empirical Research
RC51 Tutorials

RC51 Tutorials

Congress Opening

Sociocybernetics - Social Science for Globalization and Complexity

A key phenomenon in globalization and the emergence of a worldwide knowledge society is the rapidly increasing complexity of all areas of life which holds both promises and threats for the quality of life of human beings and social entities likes groups, organizations, and society. Coping with overwhelming complexity is a need of the day and a sociology which is not capable of dealing with complexity and theorizing about it is doomed to become irrelevant. If sociology is to survive and, much more, to develop perspectives for the future, it necessarily has to become a science of social complexity. Implicitly or explicitly it is bound to become systemic. Sociology as systems science, or rather systems science in sociology, has been institutionalized within the International Sociological Association (ISA) in its “Research Committee 51 (RC 51) on Sociocybernetics”. Sociocybernetics is systems science and cybernetics applied in sociology and other social sciences. We talk about systems science, because the topic is not only systems theory and cybernetics, but also axiology - i.e. the study of values and ethics -, epistemology, methodology, application, and empirical research.

While the scientific programme of RC 51 will present the cutting edge of current sociocybernetic research, the tutorial programme is designed to present in a coherent and systematic way basic concepts and notions. These evidently cannot be explained in the framework of the scientific presentations although they are necessary to understand them.

The tutorial programme of RC 51 covers the two major streams of theory within sociocybernetics (i.e. first-order and second-order cybernetics), possibilities of its application, and methodology for empirical research.


1. Theory 1: Introduction to Systems Theory and Cybernetics:
Saturday, July 22, 2006.
Bernard Scott, Cranfield University, Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, Swindon, Wilts, UK. Duration: 1 day.

The development of systems theory and cybernetics will be presented, explaining their inter-relations and overlaps along with their key concepts and findings. Activities and opportunities for discussion are designed to bring the concepts and findings to life.

2. Epistemology: Social and scientific constructivism explained:
Saturday, July 22, 2006.
Arne Kjellman, Stockholm University and KTH, Sweden. Duration: 1 day.

This tutorial presents an outline of holistic knowledge and thinking - the subject-oriented (subjectivist’s) approach, which neither divides mind from matter, the observer from the observed nor the subject from the object. The aim is to pave the way for a reorientation of human scientific thinking by pointing out severe shortcomings of the classical object-oriented (objectivist) approach to knowledge. The latter has been the prevailing scientific view since Galileo and Newton. It was useful in physics, but it can work neither in the life sciences and social sciences nor in quantum physics where the observations made very often affect their objects. A radical reorientation of our thinking is required – a real shift of paradigm in the Kuhnian sense. This is what the tutorial is about.

3. Application 1: Introduction to Cybercultur@: Researching and Developing Information, Communication, and Knowledge Production Cultures from the Periphery:
Saturday, July 22, 2006.

Jorge A. González, Margarita Maass, and José Amozurrutia,
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico. Duration: 1 day.

The tutorial deals with the theoretical and practical construction of Cybercultur@, both as a research interest and as a process of cognitive and structural development against the normal ideologies of the digital divide and the information society. It will involve a presentation and collective discussion about the way in which the so called developing countries are playing a "designed" role in XXIst century society.

4. Theory 2: Niklas Luhmann's Theory of Social Systems:
Sunday, July 23, 2006.
Diane Laflamme, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada; Bernd R. Hornung, University of Marburg, Germany. Duration: 1 day.

On the background of general systems theory Luhmann's key concepts will be explained systematically and coherently. This will permit the participants to apply this framework to particular sociological issues. The latter will be done in group work.

5. Application 2: Enterprise, Invention, Innovation, and Sociocybernetics:
Sunday, July 23, 2006.
Matjaz Mulej, University of Maribor, Slovenia. Duration: 1 day.

Sociocybernetics is about mastering complex human/societal relations. It applies systems theory to support holistic thinking rather than over-specialization in an innovative society, in which today the most advanced 20% of humankind live. The term innovation denotes both the process of making a successful novelty and its outcome. Humankind is facing the innovation paradox whereby those who most urgently need innovation are the ones who like it the least. The aim of this tutorial is to help its participants to understand the basics of innovation in the innovative society and to open the door to innovation management.

6. Methodology: Sociocybernetic Methodology and Methods for Empirical Systems Research: Sunday, July 23, 2006.
Chaime Marcuello, University of Zaragoza, Spain. Duration: 1 day.

A problem-oriented systematic conceptual reference model will be presented for elaborating specific theoretical frameworks for the analysis of different problems ranging from the global level to local issues and from transnational organizations to small groups. It will be shown how the toolkit of existing methods of empirical research can be integrated and used in a sociocybernetic context and methodology.


All tutorials will be given in English, one of the official languages of the XVIth World Congress of Sociology and of the ISA. All course materials will be provided in English. The participants are expected to take an active part in the tutorials and will therefore need a sufficient command of English.

Place and Date

The tutorials will be held in the time between 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. during the two days preceding the XVIth World Congress of Sociology:

Saturday, July 22, 2006: Tutorials 1, 2, and 3.
Sunday, July 23, 2006: Tutorials 4, 5, and 6.

All tutorials will start at 9:00 am.

The venue still has to be agreed with the ISA Congress Local Organizing Committee in Durban. It will be announced to the participants in due time.

Registration and Payment

FEES: 100 USD per person.

Students with a valid student ID receive a reduction of 50 %. This has to be requested at the time of registration.

Participants booking 2 tutorials receive a reduction of 50% on the second tutorial booked.

Since the number of places available in each tutorial is limited such as to permit adequate possibilities for questions, discussions, group work, etc., places will be allocated on a first-come first-serve basis.

REGISTRATIONS can be made by fax or by e-mail contacting:
Diane Laflamme, Tutorial Manager and Treasurer of RC51
Fax: (514)-987-4337
Université du Québec à Montréal
Montréal, Canada

On-the-spot registration will be possible depending on open places.

are to be made in cash in Durban at the tutorials in order to simplify and economize on administrative procedures.

Tutorial Organization Committee and Contacts

Barry Gibson, Tutorial Programme Chairperson, <B.J.Gibson@sheffield.ac.uk>
Diane Laflamme, Tutorial Manager & Treasurer RC51, <ad.laflamme @sympatico.ca>
Felix Geyer, Honorary President of RC 51, <geyer@xs4all.nl>
Bernd R. Hornung, President of RC51, <Hornung@med.uni-marburg.de>
Karl-Heinz Simon, RC 51 World Congress Programme Coordinator,<simon@usf.uni-kassel.de>


Detailed Descriptions

Tutorial 1
Duration: One Day
Tutorial with activities presented by Bernard Scott

Senior Lecturer in Electronically-Enhanced Learning
Cranfield University
Royal Military College of Science
Shrivenham, Swindon
Wilts SN6 8LA
E-Mail: <B.C.E.Scott@cranfield.ac.uk> Fax: +44 (0) 1793 782753

Historically, systems theory and cybernetics developed in different contexts. Norbert Wiener (1948) first distinguished cybernetics as a new discipline, the science of control and communication in the animal and the machine, following the successes of mathematicians, engineers and biologists, anthropologists, psychologists and others who had shed light on the nature of purposive, goal-seeking behaviour in natural and man-made complex systems. A general theory of systems was independently proposed by Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1950). Von Bertalanffy emphasised the ”holistic” nature of the organisation of complex systems, captured in the phrase ”the whole is more than the sum of its parts”. From the outset, key thinkers recognised that there is a fundamental unity of interest between cybernetics and systems theory: both study the organisation of complex systems.

This tutorial will give an account of the development of systems theory and cybernetics, explaining their inter-relations and overlaps. It will then go on to present key concepts and findings, supported by activities and opportunities for discussion, designed to bring the concepts and findings to life.

Concepts covered include: self-organisation, system emergence, black box, requisite variety, hierarchy and heterarchy, redundancy of potential command, autopoiesis, first and second order cybernetics, epistemology and ethics of the observer.


Two papers will be made available to participants:
Scott, B.: Cybernetics and the Integration of Knowledge.
Glanville R.: Second Order Cybernetics.
(Both are invited chapters for the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, UNESCO.)

Tutorial 2
Duration: One Day
The Fundamentals of the Epistemologies of Western Science -
Including an Outline of a Science of Becoming
by Arne Kjellman

Department of Computer and Systems Sciences
Stockholm University and KTH, Stockholm, Sweden
E-mail: <kjellman@dsv.su.se>

In the history of science always two epistemological approaches existed to the problem of building models of the presumed world: the subjectivist’s and the objectivist’s one. The former takes the cognitive subject and its experience (the impressions of the mind) as point of departure, whereas the second proceeds from a consideration of the “worldly things” themselves and a postulation of their observer-independent existence - clearly articulated or not. The tutorial will deal with the basic ontological assumptions of these approaches. It will show that the separation of observer/observed as enforced by the classical Newtonian science has never been fully established – for the benefit of science. A science liberated from all subjective elements – as proposed by Galileo and Newton – that cannot account for human feelings will without doubt leave out the most important factor affecting human decisions – feeling and intuition. Therefore science is unable to understand human consciousness and social behavior. As shown by modern quantum physics, this traditional approach results in incompleteness and inconsistencies also in the natural sciences.
History shows, however, that classical science, in spite of its creed of objectivity, always has taken guidance from the feelings and intuition of its practicioners. This suggests that the non-subjectivity of the detached scientific observer is a drawing-board product. Fact is, that this dictum is very often neglected in scientific practice. We claim that neglect of it is the real reason for the (partial) success of modern science - rather than a soundness of its basic principles as compiled in the prevailing realist doctrine.
It will be argued that the realist doctrine is not defensible any longer and that to abandon it is an imperative necessity. This will at the same time remove the bewildering Cartesian dualism, the troublesome chasm between the natural sciences and humanities, and it will open the door for a science of consciousness. The claim is that a subject-oriented approach to knowledge must take the place of the Newtonian (object-oriented) paradigm, so that science can gain consistency and the credibility of the science to come can be restored.
The subject-oriented approach is a collective conception that houses several movements like phenomenology, phenomenalism, constructivism, autopoiesis, feminism, etc. – all of which can be derived from cybernetics as defined by Norbert Wiener. The subject-oriented approach will pave the way for a science of becoming and constitute a solid theoretical foundation for sociocybernetics. Once we understand that every object of knowledge is housed in the ‘subject’, and there only, we also understand that the subject-oriented approch is the only way out of today’s confused search for a scientific ontology and quest for truth.

Tutorial 3
Duration: One Day
Researching and Developing Information, Communication, and Knowledge Production Cultures from the Periphery
by Jorge A. González, Margarita Maass, and José Amozurrutia

Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Ciencias y Humanidades
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico
E-Mail: <jorge@labcomplex.net>, Fax: + (5255) 5616 2988

The tutorial deals with some basic theoretical concepts about cybercultur@ (cyberculture), understood as the synthesis of three different “cultures”: information, communication, and knowledge powered by technological means.

It includes a collective and practical demonstration of communication, knowledge, and information systems. We will go through an examination of some examples using conventional software handled as a generative platform of knowledge.

Confronting the common ideologies concerning the “digital divide”, “the information society”, and “information and communication technologies” (ICT), the tutorial takes a developmental and sociocultural approach to collective and distributed intelligence based on a dialogical methodology.

The participants in the Cybercultur@ tutorial will be asked to attend two sessions (morning and afternoon) that will consist of a brief exposition of concepts followed by a series of practical exercises.

The main goal of the tutorial is the introduction to cybercultur@ as a tool for the construction of what we have called “Emergent Local Knowledge Communities”. We propose this concept as a strategy for the reorientation of the displaced role that the so-called “developing societies” continue to play in 21st Century society.

Key words: Information society, digital divide, collective intelligence, knowledge society, technological vector, self-organization, cybercultur@.

Tutorial 4
Duration: One Day
by Diane Laflamme* (9:00-12:30) and Bernd R. Hornung** (14:00-17:30)

*) Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
Case postale 8888, succursale Centre-ville
Montréal (Québec), H3C 3P8
E-mail: ad.laflamme@sympatico.ca, Fax: +1 514 987 7856
**) University Hospital Giessen and Marburg GmbH
Data Protection Office
Robert-Koch-Str. 5, D-33037 Marburg, Germany
E-mail: hornung@med.uni-marburg.de, Fax: +6421 286 6572

Sociology is far from having a unified theoretical approach. Also sociocybernetics, the application of systems science to sociology, has not yet developed a unified theory, although a wide agreement exists on basic concepts and theorems of general system theory. 1st and 2nd order cybernetics, which are complementary rather than competing, are also reflected in sociocybernetics and sociology. Niklas Luhmann is doubtlessly the most prominent and most important thinker applying 2nd order cybernetics in the form of autopoietic theory to sociology. His declared aim is to propose a unified sociological theory, including the "special" sociologies. To achieve this, sociological theory is to be formulated as "theory of society" at a level as abstract as possible.
On the background of general system theory the tutorial will present Luhmann's theoretical key concepts and will indicate how some of these concepts are rooted in husserlian phenomenology. It will provide an overview of the core of Luhmann´s large and highly differentiated theoretical apparatus. This should permit the participants to apply the framework presented to particular sociological issues. Part of the tutorial will be devoted to such applications in group work.
The first part of the tutorial will introduce key concepts of Luhmann’s theory: System and system boundary, environment and world, reference problems, build-up and reduction of complexity, structural coupling and interpenetration, and others.
This will permit to situate Luhmann's sociological theory of autopoiesis, self-reference, communication, action, and double contingency in a wider framework. Going more into detail, another theoretical complex will deal with meaning, meaning-constituting systems, knowledge, information, symbolically generalized media, and binary codes. Finally, taking Luhmann's theory of social differentiation as a starting point, the participants will try to apply the theoretical tools to problems and subsystems of society of their own choice.
The tutorial will take a critical view of Luhmann's theories, contrasting them, to the extent feasible, with non-autopoietic systems theories. It will identify compatibilities and incompatibilities with these other approaches as well as strategic points in Luhmann's theory which deserve further effort and development.

Tutorial 5
Duration: One Day
by Matjaz Mulej

University of Maribor, Faculty of Economics and Business,
SI-2000 Maribor, Slovenia
E-mail: mulej@uni-mb.si, Fax: 386-2-251 6681

Sociocybernetics is about mastering complex human/societal relations. It applies systems theory to support holistic thinking rather than over-specialization in order to avoid crucial oversights which might lead to wrong selections of what is essential, wrong thinking, wrong decision-making, wrong action, thus resulting in failure or a lack of success.
Today, the most advanced 20% of humankind live in an innovative society. Information society, knowledge society, learning society, knowledge-based society, post-industrial society, etc., are terms denoting parts of attributes of the innovative society and economy. The OECD in 1971, and the European Union in 1995, defined innovation as "Every novelty proven beneficial and accepted by its customers". It is not up to the authors and owners of a new idea, product, process, management style, method of work and collaboration, business program, education program, etc., to decide which novelty is an innovation. Instead, it is up to its customers to do so. In other words: innovation = invention + successful commercialization/use. The term innovation denotes both the process of making a successful novelty and its outcome.
Today, the world is divided in the innovative 20% and the too-poorly-innovative 80%. By globalization and the world-wide free market the 20% may and can both help and exploit the other 80%. This fact makes, among others, this issue a sociocybernetic, sociological, economic, and psychological issue, not only a technological one. It makes it indeed an interdisciplinary issue requiring systems thinking. Humankind is, in addition, facing the innovation paradox: The ones who need innovation the most, like it the least. But it has become very difficult, if not impossible, to live (well) on tradition and to compete in the free world market.
This tutorial is intended to help its participants to understand better the basics of innovation, innovative society, innovative business, innovation of management, and innovation management. This should help them and other persons around them to master their own destiny under globalized conditions of life and work more holistically and therefore more successfully. Empirical researchers have found that only one single percent of patented inventions become innovations, and that only about seven percent of incremental inventions become innovations. Thus, the risk level is 92% if one tries to innovate and 100%, if one tries to live on the old routine for too long. Therefore the point of innovation management is to diminish this high level of risk, and the aim of this tutorial is to open the door to basics of innovation management.

Tutorial 6
Duration: One Day
by Chaime Marcuello Servós

University of Zaragoza
Dpto. Sociología, Escuela Univ. Estudios Sociales
Violante de Hungría, 23
E-50009 Zaragoza, Spain
E-mail: chaime@unizar.es, Fax: +34 976 76 1920

Sociocybernetics will be presented as part of the paradigm of systems and cybernetics. In particular it will be shown how it can be used as a practically feasible theoretical framework for the social sciences and especially for the systems analysis of communities, regions, and countries. Starting point for such an empirically oriented application is the concept of problem-functionalism. From this, two generic components of a conceptual model for systems analysis can be developed. One is a coherent set of qualitative variables representing a societal system and - with adaptations - also other social systems. The other one is a normative system of basic values along with a corresponding value hierarchy. The latter can be used both to analyze empirical value systems and to guide the design and testing of development strategies. Altogether, this provides a practically tested and viable methodology for the analysis of social development at different levels and for the elaboration, assessment, and evaluation of development strategies.

The tutorial will explain in which way such a theoretical framework can be used to develop a sequence of more and more specific and detailed models, from rather general conceptual models to qualitative and quantitative computer models, if the available data permits to go so far. It will also show how empirical data collection is related to such conceptual models or computer models, and in which way the traditional "methods of empirical research", which are usually taught in the social sciences, enter the picture and can be integral parts of sociocybernetic methodology. These methods of empirical research range from observation to group discussions, structured and unstructured interviews, and questionnaires.

The tutorial will cover the full research cycle from the epistemological bases and the development of research questions and projects to modelling, development of empirical indicators, choice of methods of data collection, the linking of empirical data and indicators to the different kinds of models, and the interpretation of data and simulation results.

All of this will be done in a way such as to provide a practical guideline of "how to do research" on a particular issue of the social sciences.


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updated: May 2, 2006