ISA - International Sociological Association
RESEARCH COMMITTEE 51 ON SOCIOCYBERNETICS
Honorary Presidents: Walter Buckley, USA; Felix Geyer, Netherlands
President RC51:
Bernd R. Hornung
University of Marburg, Germany
Fax: +49-6421-286-6572
E-mail
: hornung@med.uni-marburg.de
International Coordinator:
Richard E. Lee
SUNY - Binghamton, USA
Fax: +1-607-777-4315
E-mail:
rlee@binghamton.edu
National Coordinator:
Mario Vieira de Carvalho
Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Fax: +351-21-3715643
E-mail:
mvc@unl.pt
mvc@mail.telepac.pt


5th International Conference of Sociocybernetics
SOCIAL KNOWLEDGE FOR THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD

Lisbon, Portugal, July 26-31, 2004
—ABSTRACTS

Alphabetically ordered.



Juan Miguel Aguado (Dpto. Información y Documentación, Facultad de Comunicación y Documentación, Universidad de Murcia, Murcia, Spain, Tel.: +34 - 968363850, Fax: +34 - 968367141, jmaguado@um.es)

Mass Media, Spectacle and Modernity: From Meta-Experiential Narratives to Artificial Input Environments
A systemic approach to media cannot be reduced to their understanding as a mere technological extension of existing functions within social systems. Mass media become a social subsystem by means of their constitution as a socio-cultural device in relation to specific meaning practices. The media system involves cultural industries as standardized commercial practices addressed to the production of meanings in terms of experiential frames. Within the last century the mass media have become a functionally differentiated social system specifically devoted to the operation of organizational coupling between actor systems and social systems in a context where a highly complex social environment extraordinarily increases uncertainty and where the management of trust becomes a key organizational problem.

The media system introduces both experience and identity into market dynamics. On the basis of their functional segmentation from both technology and economy, mass media emerge as a social subsystem that operates uncertainty absorption by means of transforming individual and social experiential frames into meta-experiences. The media system implements the interest/non interest organizational code that specifically involves the re-entry of the code in both actor systems and social systems (the former, in terms of experiential events as interactions; the latter, in terms of commercial events as interactions). The communication pattern emerging from such transformation can be outlined under the concept of spectacle.

By transferring semantic and cognitive relevance from the experiential frame (first order experience) to the communication frame (second order experience), the semantic relevance of narratives in spectacle is progressively substituted by the perceptual relevance of interaction, where individual experience becomes subsumed to biographical processes of identity construction. Meta-experiential narratives can then be posed as the operational prerequisite of artificial input environments through which individuals increase their capability to manage uncertainty in highly complex social environments by externalizing their experiences.


José Amozurrutia (Laboratorio de Desarrollo e Investigación en Comunicación Compleja
Programa de Sistemas Complejos del Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Ciencias y Humanidades Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México <amoz@labcomplex.net>,<joseamozu@yahoo.com.mx> and
Jorge A. González (Laboratorio de Desarrollo e Investigación en Comunicación Compleja, Programa de Sistemas Complejos del Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Ciencias y Humanidades Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, jorge@labcomplex.net)

Cybercultur@ and Intercultural Processes: A Systemic Approach for Modeling Migration Pulses
This paper addresses the emergent and crucial phenomenon of global flows of people from periphery to the Center of the World-System stressing a systemic approach including cybercultur@ (CK@). This word must be understood both as an object of study and as a developmental strategy of empowerment of displaced communities into a larger action/research and comparative project. We present a theoretical and methodological model that facilitates a second-order observational approach by representing and comparing between two different pulses of representations gathered over two different sets of observables: on the one hand, the migrant’s self perspective and on the other hand, the visibility elaborated by global and local media of this emergent phenomenon.

The model integrates five subsystems: I. Research tools; II. Symbolic networking; III. Coding and relative weighting; IV. Global and local media visibility; V. Critical and reflexive understanding.
They are integrated in the line of what we will call a cybercultur@l development that promotes the emergence of second order reflexivity on the phenomenon of immigration into a bottom-up strategy. A sort of cybercultur@ that facilitates the cultivation and organization of three symbolic and practical competences: 1. information, as a practical tool and valuable outcome for systemic thinking; 2. knowledge as a way to establish second order links between sets of information and observables; 3. communication as a dialogical attitude that develops a change in the way in which communities enact their social visibility.

This proposal is a part of a set of practical tools for modeling some key aspects of the symbolic experiences generated by immigration processes between different zones of the World-System. Special attention will be devoted to the clash between migrant’s symbolic ecologies and the technological (global) vector.


Filipe Borges (Junior researcher, CERSA - University of Paris, Paris 2, France, Tel.: +33 1 4348 4085, <fborges@ifrance.com> and Danièle Bourcier (Senior researcher at the CNRS, CERSA - University of Paris 2, - +33 1 4234 5896, bourcier@msh-paris.fr)

Dynamic Models and Social Systems - An Application of Artificial Neural Networks to the Judge’s Decision Making Process
New technologies are increasingly being used in the field of social sciences. Moreover, sophisticated models such as artificial neural networks are particularly adapted to complex reasoning in specific areas of social application. In the judiciary system, an experiment has been done using these models to simulate the decision process of judges in France.

In this paper we first show why the legal domain needs this type of model to develop decision making tools (parallel information processing, fuzzy criteria). Then we describe the theoretical model of the judge based on dynamic reasoning and not on linear reasoning (traditional syllogism). This model is used to develop computer decision-making tools. These may assist the decision-maker during his work. But, being mathematical representations, they may also be studied to understand more precisely the decision-making process. So, we describe how this model can give us new legal information about the process of justification and categorization.

We conclude by describing how judges can be made a part of the creation of this tool and what could be the impacts of the use of the tool on the organization of the judiciary system. The development of decision-making tools, which is one of the aspects of this research, has more ethical implications than the study of the decision-making of judges. For certain reasons (principles of freedom of judges, right of the citizen to be heard by a person), it is not possible to develop, to install, and to use these tools without taking certain precautions (especially since the models used are typical artificial intelligence models). Furthermore, however, if a massive use could cause decisions to converge significantly, it may then be asked if these tools could strike a blow at the variability of decisions, which seems necessary for the adaptation and the continuity of the “case law system”.


Soeren Brier (M.Sc. and Ph.D., Assoc. Professor, Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Denmark, Tel.: +45 38152208, sbr.lpf@cbs.dk)

Ficta: The New Scientific Novel
Niklas Luhmann’s theory of social communication argues that society is functionally differentiated into “generalized media”, such as art, science, money, love, religion, political power, and the like. Nowotny, Scott and Gibson show in their book Re-thinking Science: Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty that in what they call mode 2 societies the functional differentiations of the modern mode 1 society is becoming mixed again. The present paper is a study of such a case of a new (mode 2) type of science popularization that I call “Ficta” such as that created in the works of Michael Crichton and Greg Egan. The case concentrates on Michael Crichton’s novels Jurassic Park and to some extent The lost world as core examples of this new type of novel, where the basic plot is actually scientific. Everybody knows that his books are international thrillers on the surface and are sold as fictional literature. But a closer look at Jurassic Park indicates that the core plot is a new scientific theory, where chaos, ecological and evolutionary theory and new findings about dinosaurs, are more comprehensive then the old ones. Others of his books are about a new theory of the middle ages, flying safety, ape-language, the fate of the Neanderthal man, abortion, and others. There is a scientific message buried in every one of them in such a refined way that most people do not realize how revolutionary it is or what he is really doing.

The dramatized communication form is well known from science fiction, mainly concerning the impact of technological achievements on society. In contrast to Ficta, the science fiction novel is nearly always about new technological frames for a society and the social consequences of this, or shows that no matter what new technology one invents the social problems will be the same.


Eva Buchinger (ARC Seibersdorf Research, Division Systems Research, Seibersdorf, Austria, Tel.:+43 (0) 50550-3886), eva.buchinger@arcs.ac.at)

Knowledge, networks and the governance of autonomous organizational systems
Organizations are autonomous entities. Their legal status (private limited company, association, organization under public law etc.) is the most obvious characteristic for that. If the theory of social systems (N. Luhmann) is used to characterize the autonomy of organizations, they are explained as operationally closed systems. Both the empirical and the theoretical description make evident that the external steering of organizational systems is limited. Nevertheless, organizations are influenced by the societal framework conditions (legislation, institutions, and values) and by the web of their interorganizational relations and therefore object of external (directed or generalized) steering forces. Organizations as steering objects cannot be controlled from outside but can be influenced. Autonomy is therefore “relative autonomy” as well as steering “relative steering”. The possibility of steering is not doubted, rather the forecast of steering effects is limited. Experience shows that unintended effects can sometimes outweigh the intended effects.

The political discussion about the ambiguity of steering has recently brought forth the label governance: a word and concept which focuses predominantly on non-hierarchical modes of political steering (R. Rhodes, R. Mayntz, European Commission, OECD). One of the consequences of the non-hierarchical character of governance is its focus on participation. That means that steering objects are included in the steering process by interaction mechanisms such as communication, negotiation, cooperation or networking. Examples of participation are information exchange between steering subject and steering objects (e.g. informing the addressees in a timely manner about the steering goal and inviting them to give feed back) or, more specifically, the common formulation of steering goals. These procedures should reduce the uncertainty about steering effects and avoid too many unintended effects. In the following, the idea of operational closure is used as theoretical background for the discussion of the governance of organizational systems.


Giulia Caramaschi (Ph.D., Researcher, Advanced Communication Research Laboratory, Faculty of Sociology, University of Urbino, Italy, g.caramaschi@dns1.uniurb.it)

Observing The Digital Divide: Technological Communication and the Semantics of World-Society
The main hypothesis of this paper is that the definitions of “Information Society” and “Digital Divide” can be considered as guidelines that society adopts to observe itself and direct its operations recursively. Such definitions reflect the co-determination of the structure of society, its semantics, and new media. Information Society becomes a self-description of a society coping with high levels of contingency and complexity. The topic of Digital Divide, built at a semantic level, becomes a parameter through which society describes its boundaries: access or non-access to technology outlines the criteria of inclusion and exclusion qualifying the structure of society.

This may represent an approach to understanding how technologies are re-integrated into the individual and social dimension as a communicative reality connected to the construction of knowledge domains. The individual level focuses on the relation between technologies, communicative competence, and identity processes within a global landscape. The social level reflects how society builds the idea of inclusion and portrays the profile of the people that have a role in the reproduction of communication (the fit persons). One more level can be identified, the relational one, which enables us to observe the frictions between global and local. Here we can find the negotiation between two tendencies: the individual attempt to find strategies to cope with global languages and irritate them, and the socially recursive where particularities are regarded from a communicative standpoint, in order to build a human environment.


Arne Collen (Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, San Francisco, CA, USA, acollen@saybrook.edu)

Two Conceptual Sociocybernetic Systems That Inform Research Process in Human Inquiry
At the heart of every research study of human beings is a set of core concepts that comprise a network of constructs, from which arises a meta construct termed internal consistency. This first conceptual system is complemented by a second comprised of another set of core concepts, known as the Es of praxiology. This second conceptual system imbues the first at each phase of human inquiry. Some relationships between the two systems are discussed to delineate the manner in which the second system serves to enable the first system to become manifest as research process.



Fernando Contreras (Dpto. Periodisimo I Facultad de Comunicación, University of Sevilla, Sevilla Spain, Tel.: +34 - 9544486031, Fax: +34 - 954559626, fmedina@us.es)

Cybernetics, Communication and Contingency: On the Responsibility of Communication for the Sustainability of Life
From different but coincident perspectives, the French sociologist Edgar Morin and the Chilean biologists Maturana and Varela have developed extensive work on the biological conditions determining the limits and processes of human cognition. Knowledge as a result of system/environment interactions, however, may also be approached in the light of those conditions that depend on the semantic/syntactic/morphological relations of social logics.

In this paper we would like to develop Maturana’s and Morin’s conception of communication as a self-organizing, autopoietic operation in the existential domain. Taking communication in terms of a medium for organizational coupling, we may assume that the key issues in that process is, firstly, the selected information that we share/transfer and, secondly, the transformation of inert information into elaborate knowledge (abstract/tacit) and its preservation. Memory (or, in Luhmann’s terms, the permanent discrimination between forgetting and remembering) arises here as the context in which systems’ communication deal with contingency. In that context, mass media may be approached as a verification system within the social net.

Social systems show different levels of accessibility to stored information. Mass media would operate when the effect and accessibility of the stored information are vitally conditioned by affective experiences. If communication constitutes the very same organizational loop that features society, memory is the sediment of meaning through which one reutilizes relevant meaning units involving the informational selectiveness of communication. This involves a continuous process of meaning construction and reconstruction by means of producing confidence and trust, through which mass media shape societal and individual existence.


Carlos Fortuna (Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Coimbra, Portugal, cfortuna@fe.uc.pt)

The New Urban World: New Conceptualizations and Emerging Paradigms
Over the history of urban studies, sociologists have had a remarkable influence. In the last twenty years or so, however, the supremacy of sociology within urban studies has been challenged as a result of the ongoing fragmentation of what used to be the unitary subject-matter of the urban. Housing, education, crime, ethnicity, culture, public spaces and so on became autonomous realms within the new understanding of the city worldwide. This has brought about a paradigmatic shift within urban sociology, calling for new conceptualizations and concerns. In this paper an attempt is made at contributing to a conceptual renewal as it argues for two different approaches to the new urban sociology and a more adequate understanding of the contemporary city. The first contribution is being called the recentration of the margins and denounces the cultural and epistemological blurring derived from the historical separation of the histories of "First", "Second" and "Third"-World cities. The second contribution refers to what is temptatively designated as the post-city cultural analysis. It is intended to refer to the idea of a city as (i) dissipating all stable relations to local physical and cultural geography; (ii) obsessed with "security" with rising levels of surveillance over citizensry and (iii) simulation and a theme park.



Barry Gibson, Jane Gregory, Peter G. Robinson (Medical Sociology, School of Clinical
Dentistry, Claremont Crescent, Sheffield, England, UK, Tel.:. +44 (0) 114 271 7889, Fax. +44 (0) 114 271 7843, b.j.gibson@sheffield.ac.uk)

The Intersection Between Systems Theory and Grounded Theory: The Emergence of The Grounded Systems Observer
Recent calls for “the opening of systems theory” evidence a welcome reflection on the dialectic in the history of social science between the emergence of general and specific theory. One of the core problems of this tradition has been the tendency to produce very abstract and general theory. The result being that they invariably fail to produce tangible knowledge for the social world. It might therefore be timely to consider the possibility of “opening” systems theory to address such questions. The biggest challenge it seems, is a methodological one. Problems in systems theory contrast sharply with debates concerning the grounded theory method. The nature of such debates and Glaser’s response is the argument that grounded theory should be kept free from all forms of ontological “pollution”. The aim of this paper is to explore the implications of a theoretical and practical intersection between systems theory and grounded theory. The paper commences, following Clam, by exploring the philosophical implications of “protological” thinking in Luhmann’s approach to systems theory. Having provided such a summary it will then outline how an intersection between systems theory and grounded theory can be facilitated. The paper then goes on to discuss how a fundamental re-reading of the grounded theory method can be achieved. Finally, the paper will reflect on some of the problems that remain along with the implications of the sort of knowledge that might emerge “for” the contemporary world.


—CANCELLED—Andrés Gómez Seguel (Centre for The Study of Collective Identity. University of the Basque Country, Spain, aags@eudoramail.com)

The Management of Cultural Diversity: The Symbolic Operator of Cultural Complexity
Starting from the supposed loss of symbolic centrality of the nation state, understood as the fragmentation of the political unity that had characterised it in modernity, a reflection is offered on the ideas of diversity, multiculturalism, and difference, and their repercussions on the limits of the political system. The article attempts to investigate the complex behaviour of the dynamic of the present political system, analysing two basic hypotheses:

1) There is a diversification of the mechanisms of political and social inclusion resulting from the emergence of cultural issues. Put differently, we are witnessing the passage from a politics in which the system of parties includes social demands to a politics in which different agents manage cultural diversity.
.

Adrian Guzman (Dott., Dipartamento di Psicologia, Universitá di Roma ‘La Sapienza,’ Italy, Tel.: +39 06 499917612, a.guzman@uninettuno.it)

Psychotechnologies: Responsive Technologies for Mind and Society, Extensional Environments and Topology of Signs
In Canada and Italy over the past two decades, many studies have been made of responsive technologies that have the ability to sense and react intelligently to such factors as mind, society in a broad sense, the relation between information and hidden information, the processes of cognition, and emergent phenomena generated by the interaction between artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and the most recent nanotechnology. In order to understand such technologies, interrelated and presented as psychotechnologies, it is important to evaluate responsive technologies, which constitute a cost-effective extensional environment. It is also necessary to examine the range within which responsive technologies are applied to mind and society not only in the form of a proposed terminology with roots in the field of artificial intelligence, but also in the form of a topology of signs. Although the evaluation of psychotechnologies first received serious attention during the 1990s, there is little published evidence of the value of these technologies, especially in relation to the more popular biotechnologies or recent nanotechnologies. This paper presents selected methods and so-called “prototype disciplines” that are suitable for the study of psychotechnologies as responsive technologies, the influence and use of psychotechnologies under extensional environments, and the acquired experience obtained from different theoretical and practical investigations in mind and society as topologies of signs. Some case studies illustrative of such concepts as phenotropics, endophysics, and infonomics will be discussed.


Bernd Hornung (Ph.D., University Hospital - Data Protection Office, Marburg University, Marburg, Germany, Fax: +64 21 286 6572, hornung@med.uni-marburg.de)

Happiness and The Pursuit of Happiness: A Sociocybernetic Approach to Happiness
Everybody wants to be happy, yet few persons really seem to be happy. This is the case even in the rich and advanced societies, where material wealth is abundant and the liberties and chances for personal development and activity are many. This paper briefly reviews some suggestions made by philosophers and scientists from Aristotle to Durkheim. Based on Durkheim’s view that happiness depends on the relationship between the individual and her environment and not on the environment or on the individual alone, it is argued that systems theory provides conceptual tools to analyze happiness in terms of inside/outside and subjective/objective relations. Happiness is thus conceived as an internal emotional state, from which external means to achieve happiness, like material wealth, should be clearly distinguished.

A sociocybernetic, functional view of the psychological system is outlined, arguing that an important function of it is to provide orientation to the human being. This is compatible with much of both evolutionary and cognitive theories of emotions in psychology and also with Damasio’s neurophysiological approach. Orientation is basically achieved in two ways, cognitively, based on values and attitudes, and emotionally, based on feelings. In both cases Bossel’s orientation theory for dynamic systems can be applied. In its context, happiness, as a particular emotion, can be seen as a meta-orientor, an indicator of wholeness, health, and functioning of the whole human being. Orientation theory combined with the actor-oriented approach of Tom Burns et al. is suitable to link emotions to social systems, social values, and culture. Principles of systems theory and cybernetics, and of orientation theory in particular, can explain some of the apparently strange characteristics of happiness.


Rudi Laermans (Professor, Ph.D., Department of Sociology, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, Tel.: +32 - 32-32-04, Fax: +32 - 32-33-65, rudi.laermans@soc.kuleuven.ac.be)

Media, Morality and Contemporary World Society: A Critical Appraisal of Niklas Luhmann’s Systems Theoretical View
According to Niklas Luhmann, the media system informs on contemporary society within contemporary society. Notwithstanding the correctness of this overall characterisation, particularly for the news segment, one may argue that entertainment and publicity do also offer material for comparison with one’s own (definitions of) intimate relationship(s), well-being, lifestyle, and the like. The mass media therefore heighten the individual awareness of the contingency of one’s life-style, personal choices, beliefs or values. In this way, they have greatly furthered the post-war process of individualization, a point Luhmann pays too little attention to in The Reality of the Mass Media.

In Luhmann’s view, the operational closure of the mass media system is based on the binary code: informative versus non-informative. The more specific programmatic rules define the realm of informative communication in terms of conflicts and problems of all kinds. This results in a rather bleak picture of contemporary world society that constantly negates the normalcy of daily life. At the same time, the preference for “bad news” explains why the mass media indulge in moralizing. Again and again, the media use the moral code of good and bad, esteem and non-esteem, in order to comment upon the self-constructed “problematic state of the world”.

It is debatable whether the difference between informative and non-informative communication does form the code of the mass media subsystem. For this distinction also regulates communication within most interaction systems or organisations. I will therefore argue that the difference between attention and non-attention may be a better candidate for the characterization of the code of the media system. This also allows for a further elaboration of the role of morality within mass media communication. A second critical observation concerns Luhmann’s thesis that the mass media screen out the usual or the everyday. So-called reality television, which is in most cases “daily life television”, obliges us to nuance this characterization.


Manuel Lisboa (SociNova – Research Centre in Applied Sociology, Department of Sociology, New University of Lisbon, Portugal, m.lisboa@fcsh.unl.pt) and Sofia Amândio (SociNova – Research Centre in Applied Sociology, Department of Sociology, New University of Lisbon, Portugal, sofia.amandio@fcsh.unl.pt)

Emotional Reflexivity? The Symbolic System in Social Bonds
In this reflection, we focus on the relation between violent emotional experiences and the symbolic system in modern societies. Our proposal arises from Portuguese national and district sociological studies about “Gender and Private Life”.

We discuss the symbolic system as a normative social action frame, which in modern societies is structured by emotional reflexivity: emotion is an object of reflection and an instrument of action justification; emotional management is an integral feature of reflexive work upon the self; differently from traditional societies where social roles were not questioned, in individualistic societies the creation of biographies requires personal strategies (reflexivity and decision making concerning one’s trajectories).

With the purpose of studying the mutual relation between violent experiences and emotional reflexivity framed in a modern society’s symbolic system, we argue that social bonds reflect of the way individuals construct themselves in Western societies. Symbolic power is found not in the symbolic systems, but in the relation between those who use power and those who are dominated.

If individuals try to control their emotions, they constantly evade attempts to govern them. This is particularly clear on the violent actor side. On the other side, those who suffer violent experiences have more difficulties in making decisions. Channeling individuals into a more traditional based social life, violent experiences are disruptive and block reflexivity.

While reflexivity encourages a choice in social bonds and social action, and therefore to reframe the symbolic power observed in the relation between those who use power and those who are forced to comply with it, the violent experience is based on weakened emotional reflexivity, reproducing the hierarchical aggressor-victim relation. In modern societies, individualism encourages the reproduction and change of the symbolic system, and violent emotional experiences tend to block systemic transformation.


Carlos Lozano Ascencio (Professor “Universidad Rey Juan Carlos”, Madrid, Spain
Tel.: +34 917402213, lozanoc@jazzfree.com) and
José Luis Piñuel Raigada (Professor “Universidad Complutense”, Madrid, Spain, Tel.: +34 913026196, jlpinuel@terra.es)

Representation of Catastrophes in Popular Scientific Publications
Catastrophe is a sudden change that destroys the stability of an environment on which the life of its inhabitants depends. For these inhabitants there are two alternatives: to have the biological capital to overcome the catastrophe or to have the knowledge capital to anticipate risks and to react.

Biological capital is the patrimony of the species in its existence domain (organism plus environment); knowledge capital is the patrimony of the individuals of the species. In order to fuse biological and knowledge capital, a mechanism for transferring this information among the most capable individuals in the species is necessary. This transmission mechanism is communication.

At the moment it is of extreme importance to study the available knowledge capital in our society concerning the risks of catastrophes. And the available knowledge capital in our society consists fundamentally of two types of registered data: those that allow us to perceive what the risks are and where they come from and those that allow us to know what the right courses of action might be to annul them, and how to carry them out.

The existing registered data in our culture for preventing risks and responding to catastrophes has changed throughout history. Primitive cultures sometimes perceived risks where there were none. Today, shared knowledge allows us to anticipate many of the ways nature behaves thanks to the progress of science. Today, the popular scientific media fulfills the same function, but is restricted to catastrophes predicted by science, not by religions. This investigation carries out an analysis of the contents of popular scientific publications that are related to catastrophes.


Pavel Luksha (Head of the Working Group of Socio-Economic Studies, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, Tel.: +7 095 1507397, bowin@mail.ru)

Social Strategy Shift: Avoiding Globalization Threats
Globalization has now presented its failures, manifested through environmental, economic, social, and cultural crises. These “knot problems” are due to the constant growth and development of the capitalist system. The main reason behind growth becoming a universal value is competition among societies. Societies, described as self-reproducing systems, follow laws of “Universal Darwinism”, like any biological and social entity. Growth appears to be one of the feasible meta-strategies for survival.

Four such strategies can be envisaged, based on the “minimal structure” of society: (a) maintenance and growth of population; (b) destructive conflict interactions; (c) growth of volume and borders of “technological sphere”; (d) distribution of social memory of a given society, or “creeping capture” of other societies. Implementation of every meta-strategy is a self-organized criticality (SOC) process. Globalization crises emerge as a result of strategy “c”. Crisis can only be avoided by the change of a dominating strategy, or introduction of a “counter-program”. It is possible to classify historical periods, identify SOC factors, and implement counter-programs for each of the four meta-strategies. The shift of meta-strategies is being experienced by European civilization at the moment. While it is likely to tackle the existing threat of global capitalism, it will also present its own threats, yet to be revealed. It thus can be argued that the resolution of crises presented by globalization is likely to occur naturally. However, the self-reflective nature of societies allows them to amplify the tendencies and make the transition process toward new sustainable strategies less painful. The role of social scientists to point out existing threats and possible “ways out” should not be underestimated.


Chaime Marcuello Servós (Dpto. Sociología Escuela Univ. Estudios Sociales, Zaragoza, Spain, chaime@unizar.es)

Beyond Social Capital in the Audit Society: Social Capital as Social Knowledge
Why has a country a better economic growth? Why is a region richer than another in the same country? Could the answer be its social capital? Lately we have observed an explosion of reflections, articles, and discussions on social capital. Different people from a diverse range of positions, countries and disciplines have tried to answer and clarify—but maybe they obscure it—the nature of social capital and its relationships with the economic growth and well-being of societies. International organisations such as the World Bank, the OECD, and even the UNDP are creating knowledge, theories, and streams of thinking on thissubject. Some authors—for instance, Putnam, Palldam, Bourdieu—have won a pole position in this particular race of social sciences and governance strategy for understanding this core topic in this complex time.

The task of summarizing all these jobs is practically impossible. And, probably, it is unnecessary. We can say the same about social knowledge. But both concepts allow us to build a description of positions of the actors in social systems. And even more, the questions to formulate are more important than the responses. Their behaviour is similar to the horizon: always there, never in our hands, specially, in times when the social system can be described as an audit society. A sociocybernetic approach will be useful to observe the complexity of this field. The sociocybernetic paradigm stresses three factors in the analysis: the observer system, the observed phenomenon, and the relationships between questions and responses inside a social system as a whole.

This paper presents five parts including a short introduction and a final conclusion. The first is an overview of social capital and its basis considering the main voices and viewpoints. The second is a formulation of relations among actors in social systems below the umbrella concept of social capital as a kind of social knowledge. The third is a revision of how societies call individuals and organizations to account in the audit society, which “is a symptom of the times”.


Dario Menanteau-Horta (Professor, Center for Rural Sociology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, Tel.: +1 612 625 8798, Fax: +1 612 624 3744, dmenante@umn.edu)

Toward a Systems Approach to Human Emotions and Social Action
The establishment of the International Society for Research in Emotions in 1985, followed by other groups with similar goals in Europe and the United States, represents an emergent interest in the study of emotion. In fact, the editors of the first volume of a series about Social Perspectives of Emotion published in 1992 state: “The last decade has witnessed a flood of research on human emotion from almost all of the traditional fields that comprise the social sciences.” Massey (2002) also calls for a better appreciation for the role of emotions, arguing that such an effort can improve sociological analysis and understanding of the social condition. “The evidence,” he says, “is incontrovertible that human behavior has both rational and emotional components and that the latter cannot be reduced to the former. On the contrary, if anything, emotionality supersedes rationality in both timing and influence.”

This paper discusses the following points related to the study of emotions: (1) The interaction between the cultural contexts identified by disciplinary approaches to emotion (cultural-specific and cultural-universal) and the expressive dimensions, from an observer’s

viewpoint (outer-objective event and inner-subjective experience). (2) The sharing of my conversation with Humberto Maturana for whom emotions are forms of interaction with a social context. He states that the relational matrix which explains the origin of what is human includes two interwoven dimensions: the biology of cognition which explains perception and the biology of love which involves emotions. (3) The challenge to Sociocybernetics to be an integrative approach to the study of emotions. An increasingly complex world demands an effective disciplinary integration of knowledge for a better understanding of social systems.


Vessela Misheva (Ph.D., Assistent Professor, Department of Sociology, Uppsala University, Sweden, Tel.: +46 (0)18-471 15 09, Fax: +46-(0)18/471-11-70, Vessela.Misheva@soc.uu.se)

The Social Function of the System of The Mass Media.
The proposed paper is an attempt to provide a micro-sociological interpretation of the function of mass media that accords with a macro-sociological interpretation of its systems function. The discussion proceeds from the general assumption that the emergence of any functional social subsystem results from the institutionalization of a particular social role. The difference between the mass media and the other social systems is thereby seen as consequent to the different types of social roles that they institutionalize. Unlike all other systems, which have institutionalized permanent social roles that presuppose uninterrupted and continuous production processes, the system of the mass media has institutionalized what Goffman termed “a discrepant social role.” In principle, discrepant social roles cannot support the emergence of an entirely new social system. The latter becomes possible only when the discrepant role becomes modified and is transformed into a permanent role. This explains certain peculiarities of the mass media’s pattern of system production.

On the basis of a brief discussion of the social function of the mass media as presented in Luhmann’s work, the paper explores the possibility that an additional social role can be assigned to the mass media, namely, that of “conflict-management.” The mass media’s ability to handle social conflicts is seen as consequent to the “appropriation” and transformation of the complex discrepant role of a “go-between” or social mediator into a permanent social role. The existing criticism concerning the performance of the mass media, including the three “strands” that Luhmann identified of news reporting, advertisement, and entertainment, is further interpreted in the light of the problems that follow upon this transformation. Due to the mass media’s function of locating possible contradictions or interruptions in communication, constructing these as conflict systems, and

then suppressing and dissolving them, the former come to reserve for themselves a controlling function in respect to other social systems. They thus emerge as a type of “immune system” for the social system, which works to destabilize and dissipate conflict systems.


Matjaz Mulej (Professor, University of Maribor, Faculty of Economics and Business, SI-2000 Maribor, Slovenia, mulej@uni-mb.si), Tatiana Mlakar (Deputy manager, Office of Social Medical Insurance of Slovenia, Unit Krsko, Slovenia, Tatjana.Mlakar@szzs.si), Vojko Potocan (Assistent Professor, Management, Organization, and Systems Theory, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia, vojko.potocan@uni-mb.si) and Robert G. Dyck (Professor emeritus, Urban Affairs and Planning. Virginia Tech, College of Architecture and Urban Studies, Blackburg, VA, USA, bobdyck@vt.edu)

Synergy of the Living Systems and the Dialectical Systems Theories in Medical Care as a Social System
Systems science, including sociocybernetics, is about holism, synthesis and integration versus one-sided thinking. There are a number of systems theories that emerged from these principles, but their authors understood them differently. The Living Systems and the Dialectical Systems Theories, for instance, are equally old but quite different. If both a holistic insight and creativity are needed, a combination of the LST and the DST is a better choice than using one of them separately. LST can make many details visible; DST can can give them an interpretation appropriate for an innovative and requisitely holistic action. LST alone can hardly provide an action, especially one of a creative orientation. DTS alone can hardly provide all the necessary insight, but it can provide a bridge between different aspects of the process at stake and help them produce creative synergies of different professions’ insights. A case of combining both LST and DST in studying medical care in Slovenia proves fruitful. It can provide a usable example of how to make globalization less one-sided and therefore rather detrimental to very many.


Emilio Nogales (Associated Professor, Universidad Nacional de Educatión a Distancia (UNED), Spain, enogales@poli.uned.es)

The Mass Media System and the Comprehensive Knowledge of the Mass
This paper will examine some basic data in the evolution of the educational system through the mass media communication practiced by the Universidad Nacional deEducación a Distancia (UNED). As can be seen in one of the last works of N. Luhmann, Die Realitaet der Massenmedien, the public or mass that is connected to radio, newspapers or TV can be described as anonymous, distant and unknown as a public. But this public is intelligent, and can learn or communicate. The public observes and the system has the feeling that it is observed by its public. A social system continues while the public is there with intermittent connections; and this is the test of its reality or decline.

We can observe an educational institution such as the UNED as belonging to the educational system or, conversely, from its environment, as mediating education by means of mass media. For it is a learning form: 1) with technological issues, 2) at a distance, and 3) with anonymous students. This is not a conventional way of learning. The teaching and educational results are not easily accepted as having the same value as that of conventional universities.

This paper answers the following questions: Can the capability of a mass-mediated teaching be accepted ? Can the mass acquire knowledge or learn? Is the continuity of the system and the consistency of the institution sufficient to asseverate the quality of their results, when the students can go in and out intermittently?


Michael Paetau (University Duisburg-Essen, Faculty of Literature and Languages, Department of Communication Studies, Essen, Germany, michael.paetau@uni-essen.de)

Information Technology and The Long-Term Memory of Society
This paper takes up the problem of the long-term availability of knowledge in the so-called knowledge society. In short, we can describe the general problem of social knowledge as follows: How is it possible to make knowledge which is generated in separate contexts, in specific localities, and bound to specific actors, available to the system as a whole (e.g. in organizations or society)? Thus, every successful transformation of knowledge is coupled to three conditions: first, to a condensation of social experience and its decontextualized sedimentation in a suitable storage media; second, to the effective transfer of this sediment respecting factual, spatial, temporal, and social aspects; third, to the (re-)actualization of the knowledge sediments in practical problem-solving situations, which commonly differ from the original knowledge generation context.

There are also some suggestions from the field of informatics to consider in addressing this general question, although other scientific disciplines may regard these suggestions with skepticism. The most influential are these of meta data and ontologies (developed in the context of the “semantic-web initiative”) and those based on activities in the field of information mining (knowledge discovery). Artificial intelligence research is fundamental to both. The paper compares these and evaluates them from the view of communication theory.


Francisco Parra Luna (Profesor Titular de Sociología Industrial en la Univ. Complutense de Madrid Catedrático de Sociología de la Empresa en la Univ. Complutense de Madrid, Spain, parraluna@cps.ucm.es)

Axiological Systems Theory and Efficiency: An Empirical Application to University Departments
Four important societal changes are certainly contributing to develop the social sciences: 1) the progress of social theories that permit a better knowledge of social objects; 2) the huge production of national and international quantitative data on the most important aspects of society; 3) the progress in the treatment of data, such as SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences); and 4) the wide availability of personal computers for ease of making calculations. What is more, we are certainly facing a new system of values. In this new sociocultural context, this project has three very clear goals:

First: to verify the following hypothesis: "It is not possible to measure the efficiency (or performance) of social systems because there is no universally valid model able to compare different systems". This hypothesis has been accepted by most analysts working in the field up until the last decade, but on the basis of the above societal changes and from the latest works published, the hypothesis can be falsified.

Second: to redefine or construct a new concept of "organizational efficiency", on the basis of the fundamental systemic relation, Efficiency (T)=Outputs(Y)/Inputs(X). This new concept, with the purpose of showing its validity in systems in general, will be applied to complex systems, assuming that if in this application the concept is both viable and valid, then all the more reason for it to be viable and valid when applied to less complex system /institutions, organizations, firms or groups.

Third: to apply the new concept to measure the efficiency of university departments, using for that purpose the necessary empirical indicators (objective and subjective) to operationalize validly each one if its theoretical dimensions.


Katharina Scherke (Ph.D, Department of Sociology, University of Graz, Austria, Tel.: +43 316/380-7078, Fax: + 43 316/380-9515, katharina.scherke@uni-graz.at)

A Short History of the ‘Sociology of Emotions’ in the 20th Century
Within the last few decades an amplified interest in emotions can be noticed. This new interest occurs both in the neurosciences as well as in philosophy, anthropology and also Anglo-American sociology. Treatises on human feelings can be found in the sociological classics, but then came an extensive exclusion of this topic (until the 1970s and 1980s). Discussing the question of why emotions were neglected for such a long time in sociology, I will concentrate on the internal structure of science as a reason for the disregard and rediscovery of a topic. Changes in scientific interests are deeply connected with the scientific differentiation process. In this process new disciplines have to develop cognitive selectivity; that means they have to establish specific research fields, methods and scientific criteria to distinguish themselves from other disciplines. The accentuation of its rational, scientific character was an important means for sociology to establish itself at the universities. Topics, such as emotions, that obviously could also belong to the fields of other sciences, had to be avoided as sociology was going through this process. However, the consequence of this was that any deeper occupation with questions about human emotions was banished from sociology for a long time. Only after the successful set-up as a discipline, topics from border areas could be taken into account again. I will give a short overview of those sociological schools that nevertheless dealt with emotions in the “cognitivist period” and describe some current trends in the “sociology of emotions”, including a special look at systems theory and the handling of emotions in this theoretical framework.


Bernard Scott, (Electronically-Enhanced Learning, Cranfield University, Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, England, b.c.e.scott@cranfield.ac.uk)

How can E-Learning Developments Contribute To Ensuring A Secure And Sustainable Future For All?
As humans we are pretty good at adapting to change. Often changes happen at a pace that is in our comfort zone, seeming to come naturally and inevitably. However, if we look back we can see we have come a long way in a very short time. Let us dare to look forward to where we may find ourselves in the not-too-distant future. Let us dare to “act towards the future we desire”. In the 1930s, H. G .Wells predicted the coming “World Brain”. Aldous Huxley and others were warning of ecological disasters as early as the 1940s. Should we not now be looking to “manage knowledge” on a global scale, together with an explicit agenda to act towards a future that is secure and sustainable for all? There are initiatives happening supported by the UN and others. We should know more about them. Let us raise our awareness of issues, threats and opportunities.

Let us brainstorm regarding possible futures and how to get there. For example, let us consider the roles that could be (or are being) played by the UN and government policies, by educational systems and institutions, by other public sector bodies and business organisations. What is the place of philanthropy in our thinking? Should we consider forms of tithing or taxation? How can sociocybernetics and other sociological frameworks of understanding guide us in asking these questions?

Just as locally we find that ICT obliges us to join up our thinking and to work collaboratively like never before, so, more globally, we should expect to see similar challenges and opportunities. As an example, the UK Defence Academy supports lifelong learning for military and defence related personnel. E-learning and forms of flexible learning are deployed. Quite rapidly it has been recognised that e-learning solutions are also part of knowledge management solutions. We are now seeing synergy between these areas of development. It is also increasingly recognised that security and sustainability go hand in hand. A nation state that has access to education and training up to HE level will have a population that is both less susceptible to extremist demagogues and that has at least some of the prerequisites for ensuring sustainable economic development. In this paper I discuss historical developments, look at some current activities and raise questions about “what next?”.


Karl-Heinz Simon (University of Kassel, Center for Environmental Systems Research, Kassel, Germany, Tel.: +49 561 804 2273, Fax: +49 561 804 7266, simon@usf.uni-kassel.de)

Luhmann trivialized? Problems in Adopting Complex Theory Offerings
Without any doubt Luhmann’s theory architecture and his elaborations on the sub-systems of modern society are some of the most important contributions to present sociocybernetics. He built on classical ideas developed by the founding fathers of the field modified them and gave them in part a new meaning and opened up new fields of application. With that in mind it has to be asked how his ideas and concepts are applied in contemporary sociocybernetics research and what is the status of theory interpretation. After a period lasting for around two decades in which outside Germany there were only few contributions with an explicit reference to Luhmann’s work, the situation has changed.

During recent years more and more contributions can be found in the literature and at conferences with the catchword “Luhmann” in the title. However, it is necessary and reasonable to discuss how these references are structured and what the quality of the contributions is (quality as evaluated on the basis of Luhmann’s theory offerings). As an example, analyses could be taken which refer to Luhmann in the treatment of organisations (e.g. farms and the surrounding agricultural system). There seems to be some evidence that in many contributions explicitly referring to Luhmann’s theories only single ideas, concepts, often only mere terms (words) are used without caring much about the radical methodological and epistemological implications of Luhmann’s theory. It is not forbidden to proceed in such a way and it could even be fruitful to gain new insights. However, when parts of a theory are used (in the sense of “quarrying” for concepts and ideas) it seems to be misguided to call that “Luhmann’s systems theory applied” – rather an appropriate procedure might be to declare the reference as an heuristic one in order to reveal the inspirations one has received from the readings.


Paul Stenner (Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University College London, London, England, UK, P.Stenner@ucl.ac.uk)

Is Autopoietic Systems Theory Alexithymic? Luhmann and the Socio-Psychology of Emotions
The proposed paper will provide a critical examination of Luhmann's systems-theoretical observations concerning the emotions. An outline theory will then be developed according to which emotional processes are situated in the zones of structural coupling between organic, psychic, and social systems. Michel Serres's philosophy of communication will be drawn upon in making this argument. This theory will draw attention to substantive historical links between rights and emotions. This link will be illustrated briefly with some examples dealing with the specific emotions of jealousy and envy, and with the generic concept of emotion.


Jesper Taekke (MA. Ph.D,-student, Department of Digital Aesthetics and Communication, IT University Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, Tel.: +45 3816 8888; +45 3816 8881, Fax: +45 3816 8899, jespert@it-c.dk)

Usenet Newsgroups as Mediated Communication Systems
The paper presents a media-sociological analysis of Usenet newsgroups. The framework is an integration of Medium Theory and Systems Theoretical Sociology. Brought together, these perspectives create a picture of Usenet newsgroups as social systems, decoupled by and at the same time structurally coupled to the technology that creates their space and precondition for existence. Firstly, a theory of the interplay between communication as the medium of reproduction in social systems, perception media, and technical media for communication is presented. Then the theory is applied to and elaborated on Usenet newsgroups as a methodology of analysis. The aim of the analysis is to describe the production and reproduction of meaning in newsgroups viewed as self-organizing, interactive systems in a structural coupling to the surrounding world consisting of technology, consciousness, and life. The interesting question is what is typical in the specific version of the link between technical media for communication (that newsgroups are based on) and communication as the medium of reproduction in social systems.

Studies of communities in cyberspace must reflect an adequate theory of communication, that is, one that not only addresses transmission (Luhmann, Qvortrup, and Baecker). Also it must be able to account for social processes in the interplay with technology (Meyrowitz) and the interplay among technologies in the media matrix (Meyrowitz, Finnemann, Brügger). Moreover in addressing communication technology, it is fruitful to work directly from the concept of perception (i.e. in the Gibsonian or Heiderian sense). This paper tries to implement these three considerations analytically in the study of Usenet newsgroups.

If we want to understand social process in an online community it is important to work out exactly how the interplay takes place. Therefore we must understand both the social implications and the technical implications. This demands that we analyze the structural coupling between what I call “media of reproduction”, “media of perception”, and “technical media for communication”. I see the former two types of media as basic forms of media used by living creatures in the geographical space and the latter as special combinations of the former types. All three types must be seen as evolutionary achievements. Drawing on the Medium Theory and the Systems Theoretical Sociology this framework provides a description or explanation of the social in its structural coupling to technical media for communication.


Jacques Van Bockstaele, Maria Van Bockstaele (Centre de socioanalyse, France) and Martine Godard-Plasman (Association d’analyse praxéologique et cognitive (CAP), France, jm.van-bockstaele@wanadoo.fr)

Epistemological Perspective on the Relation of Dominance Intrinsic to the Function of Observation in Sociology
From a socio-cybernetic point of view, the observer-observed relation is equivalent to an interaction between systems of action. This relation can thus be seen as intrinsically including a power relation, with a dimension of dominance (subject-object). Starting from this presupposition, we present an epistemological digression that examines power-in-action within social systems. This approach consists of focusing analysis on the observing system and on the domination included in the sociologist’s role/function as an observer.

Cybernetics and the methodology of the “black box” combined with simulation by analogy make the reversal in the investigation among systems operative : “What happens when the collective analyst intervenes?” Asking this question leads one to center the observation upon the interactions internal to each system and on those between the systems. Not only is such an observation no longer exclusively geared towards the action of the observed social system, but, as the observer, a social system in itself, is an actor; it can, under some appropriate technical conditions, become the essential operator in a clinical simulation. The latter requires one to create a representation of the system and provides access to how it works.

To make the digression concrete, we compare, in historical order, three epistemological attitudes taken from models of observation: the positivist model, or “model of indirect experimentation or comparative method”, the “model of the interaction of observer and observed”, the “model of clinical simulation”.


Cor van Dijkum (Ph.D., Department of Methodology and Statistics, Faculty of Social Science, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, Tel.: +31 302534911, Fax: +31 302535797, c.vandijkum@fss.uu.nl) and Johannes F. Schroots (Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Free University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, jjf.schroots@psy.vu.nl)

The Challenge of the Past for the Future of the Social Sciences
Since Geyer and other sociocyberneticians challenged the “mainstream social sciences” by using concepts from systems theory, cybernetics and “complexity science”, much has happened. The social sciences seem to advance by doing research about complex social problems. But at the same time ideologies drifting back from the past block that progress. Sociocyberneticians are faced with a dilemma. Is it better to jump to a possible glorious future of the social sciences on the bandwagon of young and enthusiastic social researchers, not hindered but also not supported by old knowledge of the social sciences? Or is it wise to follow the leaders of the social sciences in their continuing struggle to reconstruct knowledge from the past?

In this situation we make a plea for a specific strategy: (1) Excavate the delights of the past of the social sciences, and surpass with those resources the dominating practice of research and education; (2) by using advanced concepts of an interdisciplinary approach of science; (3) and matching that with ingenious empirical research; (4) taking into account the way individuals are collecting and building scientific knowledge; (5) and realizing that scientific communication is not only determined by rationality but also by power and ideologies.

We focus on the use of computer simulation related to theories of the functioning of the human mind and matched with empirical research of the way autobiographical memory operates. That results in a metaphor describing the way knowledge is built, forgotten, and (re)constructed in the social sciences. Taking into account the power play social scientists are involved in and the way human imagination is distorted by ideologies, we argue that the social sciences have bartered away their potential future in the past, and that the challenge of sociocybernetics is to recover this past future with modern interdisciplinary instruments of science such as computer simulation.


Mário Vieira de Carvalho (Professor of Sociology of Music, Faculdade de Ci_ncias Sociais Humanas, Centro de Estudos de Sociologia e Estética Musical, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, Fax/Tel.: +351217942043, mvc@mail.telepac.pt)

‘Empathy’ as a Modern Pattern of Communication and its Origins in the Theory of Art from the 18th Century: A Sociocybernetic Approach
Starting from the system/environment relationship, I will try to show how the changes of paradigm in artistic communication (as a form of social communication) are related to changes of the communication patterns in the social environment, and conversely. Opera, because of its multimedia complexity and its realization by means of subsystems of communication at different levels (production, reception, mediation), giving rise to structures of reciprocal feedback, which can be analyzed in detail, seems to be the most adequate artistic field to my purpose, that is, to characterize the change of paradigm which took place in the eighteenth century and its heritage in our days. By comparing two patterns of artistic communication—that of court society and that emerging from the bourgeois environment—and by putting in evidence, in both cases, the “structural coupling” (Luhmann’s “strukturelle Kopplung”) between system and environment, I will show that empathy or identification, which, through the mass media, has become in our days the dominant and most globalized pattern of communication, is originally defined in all its elements by the “enlightened” theory of opera developed in the middle-class milieu, namely in the so-called “bourgeois public sphere” (Habermas).

Just by bringing face to face the bourgeois pattern of communication in the arts (specially in the opera) with the courtly one, the ambiguity of the former will appear under a new light. Emancipatory aims were, contradictorily, to be pursued by manipulatory devices, and such ambiguity has been expressed, in the course of the last two centuries of bourgeois culture, through the intertwining of that pattern with the techniques of ideological manipulation used by all regimes, not only the Fascist and the Communist ones, but also the present-day Western democracies, and not only in the spheres of arts and politics, but also in those of publicity and marketing, or even in the tendency to dissolve the boundaries between these different systems. Besides, globalization, in a “postmodern” world, has favored the convergence of that pattern with ancient communication strategies, those of a “premodern” world. The transfer of “empathy” from religion to art (Jauss) realized by the bourgeois Enlightenment and nowadays dominant in the mass media presently meets the premodern “devotio” of religious fanaticism: “empathy against empathy”, in cumulative feedbacks, served by the same pattern of communication and its technologically highly complex devices, like those mastered by Mel Gibson in his polemic picture on the Passion of Christ.


Ricardo Vizcaíno-Laogra (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid, Spain, rvizcaino@cct.urjc.es)

The Internet: A One-Way Exchange?
The internet offers a striking example of interactivity. This manifestation of an idea that was so prominent in the 1960s, however, seems not to offer an overall solution for a world one of whose most basic features is its plurality. An analysis of two Spanish newspapers on-line (El Mundo and El País) shows how very difficult it is to achieve and access a diversity of information through an interactive channel. The research shows that each user must make him/herself individually responsible for navigating the internet and circumventing when necessary the internal, “one-way” hypertext avenues prearranged by website designers.


—CANCELLED— Christian von Scheve (Institute of Sociology, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, Tel.: +49 3091607790, Fax: +49 40428382499, xscheve@informatik.uni-hamburg.de)

Emotion as a Mechanism of Reducing Social Complexity.
Actors in social environments in almost any situation have to act under conditions of contingency, uncertainty, and a vast amount of potential courses of action and interaction. Sociological theory explains how a great deal of this social complexity can be reduced and how actions are mutually oriented toward each other. The concepts provided (i.e. roles, norms, rationality, or intersubjective meaning) do not only describe how to overcome these obstacles and to coordinate action, they also give a glimpse of how individual action is related to social macrostructures. The aim of this contribution is to show that also human emotion is central to understanding the selection and coordination of social action, to overcome the problems of contingency and uncertainty, and therefore to resolve problems concerning micro-macro linkage. The sociology of emotion is one important building block in this endeavor.

However, emotion research from neuroscience and psychology – which is still largely neglected in sociological emotion research – provides valuable insights into the processes in question while still leaving enough room for sociological interpretation. This article further develops such an interpretation by focusing on the problem of reduction of social complexity. Emotion, neuroscience and psychological studies suggest, plays a vital role in navigating actors through complex social environments. Accordingly, emotion facilitates “quick and dirty” schematized decision-making and action-selection, subsymbolic impression-formation, and the generation of meaning in relation to the valence of a (social) stimulus. Although the mechanisms involved potentially bypass conscious cognitive determinants of social action, they are in no way independent of the forces of socialization, internalization, and social learning, as this article illustrates.


Héctor Zamorano (Contador Público (UNR) Lic. Sociología (UNED), zamorano@citynet.net.ar, www.citynet.com.ar/estudio. Faculdad de Ciencias Económicas y Estadística, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, ):

Simulation models, a way to bridge the gap between the theory and the practice
Analysis of a case: The health policy of Rosario city

The final objective of this paper is to continue the work introduced at Corfú: to try to provide specific answers to specific problems usually found in our daily work as sociologists. In other words, to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
I introduced a professional work thought specially for a government organization in Corfu. However, the focus was to explain the use of simulation models as decision support systems and the need to consider qualitative variables in these models, rather than to analyze the mathematical model.
In accordance with the topic of this conference, I would like to show , the effects of the impact of globalization on a concrete area: health policies with a simulation model .
The interesting point of this presentation lies on the fact that the model can show us its particular structure when we include the effects of globalization, and we can measure with it the effects on the social subsystem under analysis.
However, if a community is implementing a health policy model with a social base, in a place like the city of Rosario where results are known: which will be the effect on this population if we change this model for another that includes the principles of globalization?, are there any tools to analyze, measure and decide if it is more convenient to continue with the current model or to change it for another with the concepts of globalization?
In my opinion, as I said in Corfú, this tool exists: the simulation models of Dynamic Systems provide us an insight on the behavior of the social system under analysis in particular conditions.
Simulation Models: A Way to Bridge The Gap Between The Concepts and the Real Effects of Globalization.


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