2nd International Conference on Sociocybernetics
...PER APRIL 13, 2000
1. Juan Miguel Aguado Terron: The Making Of Social Subject: The Role Of Theory And Technology In Social Emergence
According to sociocybernetic perspective, the idea of machine enacts much more than a mere instrumental relation between object and subject in a social and/or intentional context. It cannot only be refered to as a causal nexus, nor even as an heuristic device fundamental to understand Western Culture. The sociogenetic value of the concept (its role in the emergence of social phenomena) and its social use lies precisely in the fuzzyness of its borders, where the distinction is drawn between operation and operator, product and producer, subject and object.
Following both von Foerster and Morin, half way from Luhmanns conception and Wieners social intuitions, we shall understand machine as any order-producer device. Consequently, heuristic devices, such as metaphors and scientific theories (systems of metaphors etiologycally structured in terms of a specific ontology of experience), are to be considered as a kind of machine. The idea of machine shows then up as semantically equidistant from the borders of sociogenetic field (ie., the context of social emergence): subject/object, product/producer.
2. Heinrich W. Ahlemeyer: Managing Knowledge Based Systems The Case of Professional Service Firms
For an increasing number of organizations, knowledge has become both a scarce resource and a major basis for value creation. Many companies try and tranfer their experience in traditional fields of management to the field of knowledge management. In contrast to this, the particularity of knowledge as a resource has to be taken into account.
This contribution chooses professional service firms and takes their recent role in the utility industry as an example for the achievements and limits of new management models in this field. It elaborates core management activities within professional service firms: creating and disseminating knowledge within the firm, recruiting and motivating workers who embody that knowledge, and developing close relationships with clients. The paper analyses the organizational structure and internal steering models of professional service firms with the concept of the learning organization. The concept of commercialism is juxtaposed by the concept of professionalism which centers around intellectually satisfying and socially beneficial relationships. Concrete ways to foster organizational intelligence and make use of cybernetic principles in managing knowledged are proposed and examined.
3. Frans A.J. Birrer: Environmental Values, Subliminal Enticement, And Autopoietic Neurosis
Values are an essential ingredient in defining and solving environmental problems. The dramatic growth of social and technological complexity, however, has brought us in a situation in which the limitations of traditional normative analysis have become painfully clear. A more reflexive approach is needed, based no longer on an archimedean perspective, but on the inclusion of the observer as part of the system.
Though this "decentering" operation is not complete without also re-positioning man vis à vis nature, the most direct obstructions presently seem to lie in our inability to deal with the inter-human part. Social reflexivity is greatly hampered by intransparancy due to systemic and communicative complexity. Intransparancy does not act merely as a cognitive obstruction; an even more disastrous effect is its interference with accountability, presenting actors with plenty of excuses not to do what they ought to. Citizens are tempted to ignore the negative environmental effects of their own behaviour, and to resist measures for the benefit of the environment that interfere with their personal desires. Politicians are tempted to postpone unpopular measures. These tendencies, embedded in social dilemma's, are associated at the communicative level with rhetorical strategies like the manipulation of the burden of proof. They are further reinforced by elements of present day culture, like distrust of politics, and overemphasis on individual performance and self-esteem.
One way in which systems analysis and sociocybernetics can be helpful is by identifying systemic mechanisms resulting from these subliminal enticements, since they generate behaviour that takes into account only a relatively narrow range of cues, and for that reason is particularly amenable to systemic analysis.
With some provisos, the effects of subliminal enticement are similar to Habermas' "colonization of the life world", as well as to Luhmann's notion of autopoietic systems. With respect to the latter, however, one may ask whether there is not the possibility of a less dysfunctional, normatively more integrated system, one for which Luhmann's theory is a less adequate description.
4. Nicolae Bulz: Nemesis - "Design" For A Systemic And Non-Systemic Welfare - A Globalization AND Sustainability Approach According WITH The Alienation
This communication proposes:
- a long-term research dealing with the history of systemic thinking (as the first general effort, and implicitly domain of this work);
- (sub-adjacently proposes) a focused research upon the impact of systemic and non-systemic thinking towards "poverty, welfare and social policy" (as the second effort, and implicitly sub-domain of this work);
- (sub-sub-adjacently proposes) a "globalization AND sustainability" (oriented) approach upon the above two domain/sub-domain (so these domain-entities are to be dynamically -- second and third order-Sociocybernetics --restructured);
- last, the [crucial - (it is my opinion, only)] questions within the field, but according WITH alienation:
= Is there systemic and non-systemic thinking?
= Which is the systemic relevance of the world?
= Are historical, philosophical, cognitive and bibliographical open problems related to Aristotle's <<sustema>>, <<holos>>?}
This communication contains contributions according to the VIth computing system generation PINK generation (Psychology, Intelligence, Neural, Knowledge) seen as applicator for a social complex evolving system. There is a delimitation of concepts connected with actual goals derived from Francis of Assisi, W. Occam, V. Pareto, G. Myrdal, M. Mesarovic, R. Mattessich, J.A. Tainter, J.H.G. Klabbers, B. de Vries, I. Wenzler, T.J. Sanders, F. Geyer, K.D. Bailey, D. DeTombe, F. Parra-Luna. This delimitation is the result of "social effects of advanced technologies versus human energy and alienation".
5. Mário Vieira De Carvalho: Art As Autopoiesis? A Critical Approach Starting From European Musical Avantgarde In The Early 1950s
The development of serial thought in the European Music culminates in the 50s (with integral serialism) in an ideal of musical composition in which the composer becomes more and more merely an observer and an executor of the possibilities predefined by a serial matrix. Although this matrix, concerning all the parameters, should be created by the composer himself, it was not allowed that he or her modify in an arbitrary way, along their working, the consequential development predefined by the matrix.
Some writings by representative composers of this trend for instance, Stockhausens and Goeyvaertss correspondence from the early fifties seem to incorporate the concept of composition as autopoiesis and of the work of music as an autopoietic system. Obvioulsy without using the term, which was not yet coined at that time, they postulated the works should compose themselves, according to immanent rules and in a way which seems to be very close to Maturanas und Varelas concept of living organisms or Luhmanns social systems as autopoietic systems.
Accordingly, these composers excluded from the musical composition: a) any heterogene idea or element; b) any external intervention by the composer; c) the so called historical dimension (the work should appear as an object projected on the space, and not as a segment of time or as a development in time). In Music, autopoiesis is therefore linked with the idea of separating the work, its composition, also its performance, from any fact immediately related to the human or social experience of the musician, from any conscious decision he or her could take.
This ideal formulated by the serial composers, who started from a determinist way of thinking gains still more coeherence in John Cages aleatory music, in which nothing was predefined, not even the sound material from which the work would come into world.
Thus, Luhmanns theory of art, which aims namely at eliminating ideology from the aesthetic experience (Luhmann 1996), finds its most achieved example in this kind of New Music, behind which, however, ideology was necessarily at work.
6. James T. Corredine: The Aggregate Female Fecundity Interval - The Biological Origin Of The Periodicity Of Losch Birth Waves
August Losch in his article Population Cycles as a Cause of Business Cycles, published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics 1936-7, 51 [p.649] states "The prevailing opinion still regards changes in population as 'results' of economic developments, as Malthus did, . . . The thesis of the present paper is that the relation between population and business is just the other way around: changes in population are among the main 'causes' of economic changes."
Losch also states: "We find quite clearly great [centennial] waves, the main cause of which are the great wars. The deficit of births during a war and the surplus of births in the immediate postwar period repeat themselves about thirty-three years later, when the new generations are at their time of highest fertility (my italics). For the same reason thirty-three years later a third wave occurs. Of course these subsequent waves become broader and broader, flatter and flatter, and after a hundred years entirely interfere with each other, . . ."
At Loschs observation of an approximate 33-year biological periodicity, we must make our inquiry. This paper investigates Loschs analysis using population and demographic concepts to propose a system of biological time invariants that underlie Loschs axiomatic 33-year repetitive time interval on which he based his predictions. The primary biological time invariant is identified as The Female Fecundity Interval which taken collectively becomes The Aggregate Female Fecundity Interval. This Aggregate Female Fecundity Interval, determined by the ages of first fecundity and menopause at extreme opposed ends of the fecundity range as a subset of a normative life span becomes the foundation for further mitigated invariants that ultimately result in the periodicity of the birth waves.
7. György Darvas: A Thermodynamic Model To Describe Integration Processes In Societal Systems
Social systems, subsystems often show a behavior very similar to thermodynamic systems. This justifies the use of a model, what adopts the description used for thermodynamic systems to the description of manifolds of social character. Lets apply the thermodynamic model introduced by the formulation of Gibbs.
This way of description of a system functions not only for modeling classical thermodynamic (gas and fluid) systems. We can replace the molecules by other entities, the extensive state properties of V, S, m by other extensive (additive) quantities, and the intensive ones too, considering, of course, that for x intensive state properties there can be x+1 extensive state properties, and there must be x+1 relations among them.
Lets replace the gas phases, described in thermodynamics, e.g., by countries. Lets consider national societies as subsystems within walls - usually named as country borders - and characterized by extensive and intensive properties (variables). Volume can be replaced by territory, mass by population, and further extensive quantities can be defined, like e.g., the labor force, the GDP produced in a year, the amount of produced goods, etc., while intensive quantities can be composed as density functions, like per capita GDP, density of population, etc. One can allow different flows through the boarders of the country, e.g., migration of the population, of the labor force, what all correspond to a kind of reversible, non-expansion work (in its physical sense).
Interesting conclusions can be made, when studying integration processes. According to the model each step of the integration process e.g., of the European Union means to remove a single boundary, what had isolated the free flow of a quantity (like labor force, investment capital, or goods). The elimination of each partial boundary, i.e., to allow the free flow of an extensive quantity and consequently a nivellation in the corresponding intensive quantity will lead to the increase of the entropy of the system. This quantity - the entropy - is associated with a special form of information. Therefore all information producing subsystems - in generalized meaning - will make benefit of any integration process.
8. Tessaleno Devezas: Learning Dynamics Of Technological Progress
Since the onset of the world economic depression of the 1980s there has been a renewed world-wide interest in the study of long-term macroeconomic rhythms. This long-delayed further development of what has been known as business cycle theory has attracted the attention of an increasing number of scholars interested in the phenomenon of long waves in technoeconomic development, generally referred to as Kondratieff waves or simply K-waves. At each K-wave old activities are disused and replaced by revolutionary new ones, and a structural metamorphosis takes place that may be pictured as a new Technosphere.
Many different theories have flourished to explain the phenomenon of long waves and the characteristics of these Succeeding Technospheres, such as neo-Schumpeterian models based on different macroeconomic parameters or even physical parameters. But all these models are directed toward explaining the functioning mechanisms of the long wave, and very few are formulated toward the analysis of the real causality. Causality must be understood in context of two categories: first, the triggers of the swinging behavior of the world economy, and second, the determinants of the 50-60 year periodicity.
In this paper it is assumed that the most important causality of long waves is founded in our biological realm and that the basic beat of socioeconomic systems is determined by our biological clocks. The timing of the cyclical behavior of technological progress proposed is based on two kinds of biological invariants that constrain the collective human behavior generational and cognitive. This paper focuses the cognitive aspect that consists of the alternating sequence of learning processes, manifest in two types of succeeding learning phases: first, a new knowledge phase, and second, a consolidating phase. It is possible to demonstrate that there is a limiting learning rate to assure the sustainable unfolding of the new technological configuration.
9. Capitolina Diaz: Conversational Heuristic As A Reflexive Method For Feminist Research.
This paper presents feminist research as a process of distinctional openness in opposition to prevailing distinctionally closed systems of thinking. The process of distinctional openness is realized by a conversational (reflexive) heuristic method.
Classical scientific systems (natural and social) usually are based on a distinctional closure. That is a system of distinctions, concepts, categories that lead one to others and allows the production of definitions, to establish conclusions, to make calculations, etc. Mainstream (malestream) sociology is one if this distinctionally closed systems of knowledge.
This paper is aimed to show that a distinctional open approach can reveal, first the particular position of women in our societies, and second the variety of reflexive relationships between researcher and researched in feminist research.
Conversational heuristics is aimed to knowledge based on the in-formational exchange between subject and object of the research. Conversation here is considered in its wider sense (Pask, 1976). It includes listening to informants, observing behaviour, examining data and self-conversation.
A reflexive method is bi-directional. It allows for subject and object to exchange places: the researcher becomes object for the the researched and vice-versa. The reflexive heuristic is a second order research, it is not only a research about the subject to be investigated but about the investigator and the mutual reflexivity in the process of constituting both subjects.
A reflexive heuristic method is able to detect the emergency of new objects, new relations and it allows also to visualise objects and relations hidden or neglected for previous research methods. This is also one of the main aims of feminist research.
10. Cor van Dijkum: Sociocybernetics: Going Beyond the Logic of the Human Sciences.
This century will face us with a large number of social problems. To handle those problems it is for sure that the human sciences are needed. But are the human sciences prepared for such a demanding task ? Already in the past century the system theorist Bertalannfy stated that "we know and control physical forces only too well, biological forces tolerably well, and social forces not at all". This statement is still valid in our century. For, do the human sciences really understand the forces which are working on individuals and their society, and can they handle their complexity ? Three basic problems, essential for this, are still not yet solved in the logic of human sciences. How do we get grip on the interconnected character of human problems ? How can we understand the time dependent development of those problems ? How do we use the knowledge about the dynamics of these developments to tackle facets of the complexity of human problems ?
Sociocybernetics seems to understand more of the logic of these problems. In this field one can develop with the aid of cybernetics, system dynamics, and concepts such as selforganization and autopoiesis, a logical framework which promise to be more adequate to handle social problems. In this paper such a framework is clarified, filled in with a number of examples of empirical research, and the validity of it is explored.
11. Vladimir Dimitrov, Lesley Kuhn, Robert Woog: The Danger Of System Thinking When Applied For Managing Social Complexity
Prediction, target setting and goal achievements are essential attributes of system thinking; they work effectively in a linearly ordered environment, where the changes in system's inputs are proportional to the changes in system's outputs and the cause-effect relationships are transparent enough to be discerned. Because of this, whenever system thinkers (socio-cyberneticians, systems developers) explore real life situations, they automatically turn to models that allow prediction, target setting and goal achievement. As far as any non-trivial life situation represents a realisation of some chaotic process, which is difficult to predict or orientate towards pre-defined goals and targets, system thinkers intensely try to invent ways to 'improve' chaos, that is, to substitute it with models of order. In society, the 'improvements' of chaotic behaviour, based on system thinking, gravitate to establishment of hierarchical models of order. When put into operation, such models of order serve to assert power and control. So, almost in an invisible way, the application of system thinking to social reality contributes in strengthening the power-oriented aspirations and ambitions in society. The sphere of economics and politics is saturated with such kind of aspirations and ambitions. An example is the law recently accepted by the Australian parliament to allow the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to tap into and alter data on private computer systems (for 'surveillance purposes'). The present paper reveals how the application of system thinking to social complexity contributes to establishment of orwelian type of social order. A special accent is put on the phenomenal brainwash going with an ever accelerating tempo in today's society - a brainwash, which is of vital importance for the survival of The System. The new perspectives opened by Complexity Thinking help to understand (and thus to transcend) the danger inherent in systems thinking.
12. Julia V. Frolova & Larissa A. Pautova: Strategies of Adaptive Agents Behaviour - Using of Sociocybernetics and Computer Simulation.
The main objective is to use the conceptual frameworks of sociocybernetics and computer simulation to explore the types of adaptive behaviour and self-identity of agents in crisis situation. It is very difficult for the gender systems to keep in certain stability, to adapt in this crisis situation and at the same time to develop. Our modelling is based on empirical research of professional and household experience of men and women in different social systems. Through analysis of gender roles it was important to explore the change of self-identity of women and men roles in marriage.
Models describe family and gender transformation during bifurcation, the destruction of old and origin of new female and male self-identity. It will be effective to employ agent modelling for achievement of our purpose. This approach presumes that fundamental social structures and groups emerge from the interaction of individuals operating in artificial environment. The basic ingredients of modelling are following: 1) agents - men and women of artificial society. Each agent has internal states and rules. In models, professional/household, education, single/married attributes of agents are described; 2) environment; 3) rules of behaviour for the agents. The need to survive in crisis conditions is one of the rules for agents.
The results of our computer simulation raises an important methodological question about the empirical foundation and validation of cybernetics models.
13. Felix Geyer: title and abstract will come later
14. Bob Hodge: Mexico in cyber-space - Neural networks and a postmodern science of language and culture
The aim of this presentation is to draw on various traditions within the broad field of Socio-Cybernetics to explore new ways of studying the cognitive basis of language and culture, and to develop powerful and practical methods for analysing social and cultural change.
The theory is illustrated by reference to a particular project, studying the hybrid forms of culture identity newly emerging in Mexico, circulating on the Internet, co-constructed from both Mexico and USA, drawing on and transforming existing cultural repertoires. The point of using this kind of material is that the forms of society and culture involved are dynamic, without clear boundaries, in a state of rapid and unpredictable change: precisely the kind of phenomenon thrown up constantly by the global context of world cultures, which traditional static and linear forms of analysis are not able to adequately describe or explain.
Theories of neural networks are ideally suited to be the site for this attempted synthesis, since these theories specifically model cognitive structures that correspond to what is known about the neurological architecture of the human brain. For the purposes of this synthesis, three especially useful qualities about this class of theory are:
1 Its physiological realism - its proposals attempt to incorporate into its design work from physiologists on the properties of neurons and their forms and functions
2 Its generality - its models and theories are abstract, designed to apply to forms of network processes wherever they may occur, in biology, society and semiosis.
3 Its use of non-linear models - it is highly scientific yet goes beyond the linear models previously dominant in 'scientific' explanations of language, ideology, society and mind, drawing on the rich repertoires of concepts from various scientific traditions such as 'Fuzzy logic', 'Chaos theory' and 'Complexity science'.
The paper will argue there is a significant homology between structures of neurons, cognitive schemata, ideologies, linguistic structures, social formations, and forms of culture and identity, requiring commensurable terms in order to investigate and understand the complex ways each has developed and now interacts with all the others. It will argue this transdisciplinary framework has immediate practical advantages for the study of language and culture within the field of socio-cybernetics.
15. Bernd R. Hornung: World, World System, And Globalization - Theoretical Problems In Luhmann's Theory Of Communication -
At first sight Luhmann's theory of social systems seems particularly appropriate to deal with issues of the world system and globalization. After all, "world" is one of Luhmann's basic concepts and social evolution a major theme in his theory.
At a closer look, however, a number of problems arises. In part these problems are due to Luhmann's peculiar "theory design". The paper will try to clarify some of the basic concepts of Luhmann, contrasting his theory with the original autopoietic theory of Maturana and Varela and with non-autopoietic sociocybernetic approaches like that of Walter Buckley.
Major theoretical problems and their implications for the understanding of globalization which are to be discussed, are the following: Luhmann's strict limitation of sociology to the level of communication, which might be called "sociology in mid-air"; the application of the theory of autopoiesis to non-living systems, a theory designed by Maturana and Varely explicitly as a theory of living systems; the problems of the origin of autopoiesis and of maintaining it in non-living systems which consist of communications; related to the latter, the question of communication as an emergent phenomenon and its relation to autopoiesis leading to the issue of the appearance of functional differentiation and social evolution.
The paper will close with an argument for "bringing process back in" and for process-oriented constructivist sociological theory which builds on Second Order Cybernetics.
16. Bernd R. Hornung: "Minimal Conceptual Modelling (Mincomod) - From Theory Of Society To IT-Systems In Hospitals"
The paradigmatic method of sociocybernetics and systems science is modelling and computer simulation. An essential part in this is the use of systems diagrams, flow charts etc. Simulation is also the method of choice to arrive at controllable prognoses and planning. In spite of considerable needs for this kind of knowledge in economy, politics, and public administration, simulation has hardly succeeded in everyday management. One important reason is the substantial effort and time required for modelling itself, but also for validation and the communication and explanation of results.
To cope with this problem, a checklist-approach for minimal conceptual modelling (MINCOMOD) is suggested on the basis of a largely accepted standard modelling procedure.
This procedure is based on a problem-functionalist qualitative approach which integrates abstract systems theoretical concepts with substantial sociological theory. From a sociocybernetic problem-functionalist conceptual model for societal analysis theoretical frames for specific areas of sociological research can be derived. The latter can be used to develop rather rapidly practically useful checklists to deal with specific problems. This has been done for research issues ranging from societal development in Third World Countries to sectoral issues in health care, local project management in the development of shanty towns, regional development of IT systems, and organizational issues of data protection and date security in hospitals. The paper will focus on the latter example.
Analyses with such a check-list oriented modelling approach can be considered as stepts in the process of developing computer simulations. On the one hand they can lead to useful results, on the other hand they can be carried out with limited resources.
17. Arne Kjellman: The subject oriented approach to science and some if its pedagogical and ethical consequences.
Knowledge and information are often made communicable by the "technique of analogical transformation". Another one is the human brain computer analogy and these lies behind efforts that has been extremely successful during the 20th century. They both suggest the human brain to be a "stiff container of knowledge" and also presume that the phenomena "outside" consciousness are directly accessible. This state of affairs has had a heavy impact on both human ethics and teaching traditions, inasmuch the educatorThese paper challenge this sender-receiver tradition of pedagogy - focusing on a state of transition now made obvious by the advancement of information technology (IT). The keyword used in such transition will be resonance, which will take the place of "information observer and its object of observation (in the physical sciences) or of communication (in the social sciences). This view brings out the "outside reality" as nothing else but a model constructed in a fruitful resonance with (the transience of) consciousness and such a model is needed just in order to aid any living being in the struggle of survival and mastery. Knowledge in that respect can only be gained by means of coexistence and education. So achieving knowledge is to look actively for something that can explain the "images of your mind" and confirm/modify these constructs by recursive cognition. For pedagogy the difference lies in the activity of the learner/cognizer. According to this view there is no information in books, computers or even reality - its rather rises the moment an observer can "find resonance" and such resonance cannot be established without former knowledge - in that respect observation is theory dependent. The subject-oriented approach points out that this influence is even greater than earlier imagined, which in turn has a deep-going influence on human ethics. Every individualOn this view freedom means something more than freedom from slavery - and oppression. Freedom means the right to develop your own capacity and abilities and deserve the full acknowledgment from society for and when doing so.
18. Victor V. Korobitsin: Ethnos as Unit of Society Model
The great goal of investigation is the creation of the mathematical model of society. This model is a hierarchy system of the multilevel organization. These levels are biosphere, ethnosphere, sociosphere and psychosphere. The model of ethnosphere was constructed on the biosphere level. This model is a system of the interacted ethnoses.
The ethnos is a stability community. Its members are opposed themselves to members of the other ethnoses. The opposition is based on the stereotype of behaviour. A type of landscape defines the behaviour. Therefore every landscape defines the ethnos.
The model of the ethnos is created on the basis of four rules: an accumulation, a loss, a dissipate and a shift of the drive energy. The rules are described on the integral expression. The integral equation is a result of the use principle of saving energy. The system of differential equation is a result of transformation of integral equation. This system is used on the computer simulation. The software was created for realization computer modeling.
Testing of the model was realized on the territory of Europe, Middle East and North Africa. There were three ethnoses in the modeling: Western-Catholic, Slavic-Ortodox and Arabic-Muslim ethnoses. For the first time the drive impulse is given on the random point. Then to solve the system of equation and solution is demonstrated on the computer monitor. The hundred tests were passed to collect the statistical data. Finally, the computer model permits to observe evolution of ethnoses and its interaction.
19. Lesley Kuhn: A Role For Complexity Theory Within The Exraordinary Difficulty Of Staying Humble
We burn with desire to find solid ground and an ultimate sure foundation whereupon to build a tower reaching to the infinite. But our groundwork cracks, and the earth opens to abysses (Blaise Pascal in The Two Infinities)
What therefore is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonymies, anthropomorphisms which long after use seem firm, canonical and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions of which one has forgotten that they are illusions. (Friedrich Nietzsche, On Truth and Falsity in Their Extramoral Sense)
Two perspectives on the nature of humanness concern me when contemplating myself and others as knowledge producers. The first relates to the kind of knowledge we consider humans produce. How may we talk of the level of security with which we hold our knowledge? In what senses do we take our knowing as truthful and objective, or as useful and subjective?
The second perspective concerns the human condition being characterised by autopoiesis. Philosophers such as Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt posit that while humans are undeniably autopoietic we can to some extent forfeit our distinctness to an all-conforming sameness of society. Arendt terms this as a move from action (which is self-revelatory) to making (or merely behaving conforming). Heidegger makes his distinction between two modes of being - contemplative, and calculative.
In reflecting on the use (others and mine) of General Systems Theory, first/second order cybernetics, or the sciences of complexity in social research, I am interested in the assumptions held regarding the knowledge generated. Concomitantly, I am interested in the sense of ourselves as knowledge producers, that these frameworks engender (or attract).
This paper explores the potential for Complexity Theory to emphasise uncertainty and the illusory nature of truth, and thereby, to encourage intellectual acumen, authenticity and humility.
20. Alexander A. Laptev: Modeling of Social Processes
Our work outlines the construction of a model of the society. The society is viewed as a certain structure, composed of bio-, ethno- and sociospheres. We develop a model describing the behavior and interaction of the social structures. In the construction of our model, we rely on the ideas of T.Parsons, an American sociologist, on the cyclic evolution of society. We are constructing the model using a system of differential equations, which describe the following subsystems of the social system: societal community (normative order), system of maintenance of institutional ethnic (cultural) samples, political system and economic system.
As a control parameter (it is needed for the study of cyclicity), we take the "Passionarity" level, a subsystem of ethnos, since the social system is controlled by ethnic factors only. The constructed and analyzed system agrees well with the theory offered by sociologists. The obtained solution is periodic, and the behavior of the described systems conforms to the theory. The solution of my system has a bifurcation point (Andronov-Hopf theorem); that is, at certain parameter values, the stable equilibrium develops into a stable cycle. As a result, applying the constructed model, it is possible to predict social processes. At the current stage, we model global social processes (lasting more than 100 years). However, we expect further developments of the model (better approximations, expansions, additions) will bring it to an appropriate level, so that it becomes useable for practical purposes.
21. Nils O. Larsson: Various system levels need various scientific methods
The paper presents a proposal for a varied view on the problems of research on various types of systems in general and in social sciences in particular. The levels proposed are based on the development level. The basic level is Non-Living Systems i.e. the earth without any living species. The second level is Living (or autopoietic) Systems that covers all living species regarded as biological entities. The third and last development level consists of Human Activity Systems or Decision-Making Systems. The decision concept is used for describing the three levels. One common factor for the three levels is the degree of designed complexity. The second factor in the three levels are 1) degree of versatility on the basic level, 2) degree of decision capabilities in the Living System level, and 3) degree of freedom to decide on the level of Human Activity Systems. The paper describes the various levels and their interdependence and how the decision concept can be used in an analysis of the three system levels.
22. Richard E. Lee: The Contradictory Effects of a Globalization Perspective: Methods and their Unanticipated Consequences
If the most conspicuous label applied to the analysis of large-scale social change during the quarter century following the geo-political solution of 1945 was "Modernization", the contemporary catchword is "Globalization". The shift reflects a recasting of interest from concerns focusing on the non-Western, non-developed world to an articulated vision of an interconnected world, global in scope. Although the word has been used in such diverse ways that it has almost become a cliché, this paper will argue that the unexamined premises that most globalization studies share warrant our attention for the unanticipated consequences they involve.
The first section of the present paper will examine the most prominent of the globalization approaches whether from the standpoint of a single logic (e.g., Rosenau, Gilpin) or multi-causal logic (e.g., Giddens, Robertson) and sketch an overview of globalization approaches that focus on debates concentrated in the political, economic or cultural arena. Then, it will analyze the methodological presuppositions common to these studies with regard to the temporal and spatial unit of analysis, the role and impact of implied actors, and especially the model for the analysis of social change that is only rarely made explicit.
The second section of the paper will develop two different conceptions of systems models as applied to human reality. One views such a system as composed of elements in relation to one another. It will be argued that for the most part, studies that deploy Aglobalization@ in whichever of its many guises generally fall into this first category. A second model comprises an implicit critique of the first. It views such a system as first and foremost a system of relations that then constructs the observable elements as its processes reproduce it over time (thus the form of the elements might well change over time).
The final section of this paper will appraise the scenarios for possible futures that each of these models entails.
23. Alessandra Lippucci: Self-Steering And Social Scientific Thinking
The observation of other systems in tandem with self-observation advances the autopoiesis of thinking in general and social scientific thinking in particular. Awareness of the ways in which both types of observation alter and advance the social sciences is a prerequisite to intentional meta-theoretical activity--consciously changing the rules governing social scientific thinking and/or devising new tools for the purpose of social science theorizing and analysis. Too few social scientists, however, are sufficiently aware of these factors and the central role which their own intellectual autopoiesis plays in altering the systems of knowledge within which and through which they operate individually and collectively. Systems theorists who concern themselves with human agency in their analyses of social systems are in the best position to appreciate the ways in which social scientists as individual agents affect, consciously and unconsciously, the structure and content of the social sciences as disciplines. This paper suggests that the quality of observation and self-observation with respect to the dynamics of social scientific activity has important consequences for the quality and nature of that activity and these disciplines, and that these consequences in turn affect the quality and nature of the social systems with which social scientists are concerned.
24. Marilena Lunca: Survival in the Network of Networks Society.
The agents referred to here are decision-makers (D-actors) together with the channels they use to access information needed to take decisions. For routine decisions, such agents make use of the semantics corresponding to the binary logic, which is a binary-valued semantics. Given that (a) channels are networked and the actor is part of several such networks simultaneously, and (b) networks grow and become increasingly embedded as a result of more information being needed, agents have to take far-reaching decisions and are faced with indecisiveness.
In order to do that, agents construe alternative scenarios. Usually, each scenario is carried out in a semantic construction such that one cannot tell whether two scenarios are different unless their semantics differ. Although the kern of each of these semantics is binary-valued, a scenario may develop a third or possibly a forth dimension. The initial binary-valued semantics is multiplied by the number of scenarios and that of dimensions, hence the need for an agent to handle an N-valued semantics in order to evaluate scenarios.
The paper defines the stages of the evaluation process when N 4, and highlights the points where indecisiveness is encountered.
25. Chaime Marcuello: "Global Governance for one Planet: Humanituy as a Single Socail System".
26. Fernando Contreras Medina: Brief Notes For A Semiotic Paper About The Cyberculture
In the last ages, the technologist revolutions ( in our century we could point out the industrial, post-industrial atomic, etc) have imposed models of production and effectiveness on the physic stuff; the abstract stuff of the new information and communication technology which makes a personal reference in the technology based on the computers, is the information. Computers are able to manipulate and transform it from raw material to elaborate or manufactured material. In fact, the constant search of a perfect tool which treats this stuff called information, needed of a system able to conduct it effectively and fast, archetypical characteristics of nowadys. This is something we can admit, althought we don´t confirm that the computer is the perfect tool, that is a personal matter. But as we all already know, the continuous change in the improvement of its components refers us to an unfinished and imperfect object.
27. Dario Menanteau: Globalization and Development: Challenges and Opportunities for Sociocybernetics
Globalization involves an increasing number of human and social activities offering theoretical challenges and practical opportunities for Sociocybernetics. While the most visible effects of this process include the internationalization of the world economy, the expansion of markets, and a growing interdependence among countries, globalization also carries major consequences for development. The global economy not only implies a significant transformation in the mode of production, distribution, and exchange, but is also reduces the role of the state on national development policies and functions. Global capitalism, moreover, is generating severe conditions of income inequality, new environmental risks, organizational problems, and potential conflicts. As Teeple (1995) remarks, "It is now apparent that the social and political consequences of a single world market ruled by the coercive force of `economic justice' will be marked by increasing fear, poverty, and unfreedom."
Globalization demands full sociological attention because it constitutes one of the most pervasive and dynamic social processes by which distant societies are becoming members of a global system. Nodern technologies and communication facilities have made possible and intensified social relations worldwide. The ability of some nations, however, to become fully integrated in the `global web' varies according to levels of development and the hierarchical nature of the globalization process. Thus, the impact of globalization on the Third World poses critical questions regarding global inequelity and international stratification.
This paper will discuss some trends and characteristics of the globalization process and the impact of the global economy on general conditions of social development. It will describe the extent to which theories of development seems to be poorly equipped to analyze globalization as a worldwide phenomenon. The paper will also explore some current arguments pointing towards basic principles and capabilities of Sociocybernetics to deal with both, the processes of globalization and development. Specific attention will be given to some of the ideas suggested by Stafford Beer's "viable system model" to better understand the fundamentals of development in a complex world.
28. Vessela Misheva: The Theory Of Autopoietic Systems And Globalization
At first glance, Luhmann has nothing to say about globalization. Nevertheless, his theory provides the starting point for discussing this issue.
What does globalization mean when the theory of autopoietic systems views all social subsystems (science, economy, law, politics, etc.) as world systems, and even the all-embracing system of society is conceived of in singularity? Society is a world society (Luhmann, The Differentiation of Society, 73). However, one social system is an exception, namely, the system of politics. The paradox of our times is that we talk about world politics without having a world system of politics. Even a brief consideration of the political situation in the world demonstrates that the system of politics is not global and has no universal medium. It is still directed from particular centers of power (even if they be collective organs) which decide what is right and what is wrong for the world. In other words, the system of politics is not yet a system of communications. It is rather a system comprised of many individual systems that communicate about each other, but not with each other.
From where do such problems arise? Luhmann makes an extremely important comment in his Differentiation of Society concerning the system of politics, which he maintains is a most spectacular example of the historical transition from territorially to communicationally defined systems boundaries. The system of politics thus represents an obsolete historical residue in that it, as no other system, still uses territorial boundaries as a basis for its operations and decisions (The Differentiation of Society, 244).
Within the context of Luhmanns systems theory, the process of globalization presupposes the modernization of the system of politics, which is not yet fully autopoietic. Globalization means the complete replacement of territorial boundaries by communication boundaries. In order to become truly autopoietic, the system of politics will have to cut the bonds which hold her tightly to particular places and instead define her boundaries, as does any autopoietic system, in space.
But there are two important consequences of the process of globalization understood in this sense that must first be taken under serious consideration: 1) When the system of society as an autopoietic system realizes itself entirely in social space, when there is no system for assuring its connection with the private concerns of any place, will there not be a rupture between society as a social system and society as an institution rooted in a place? This presupposes the development of a global institution whose sole point of reference can only be Earth, not any particular country or continent. This also presupposes the emergence of a new type of social agent who, having completely severed his social bonds with any place of origin, is capable of working for the whole. 2) When the internal boundaries of the system of politics disappear, there will be a general and spontaneous increase in its complexity. However, this initial complexity will ultimately be transformed into its opposite insofar as complexity in systems terms is always connected with the existence of difference and, therefore, boundaries.
It seems evident that systems of politics will not lose their territorial boundaries any time soon. What is rather necessary at this point in time is the construction of a kind of political superstructure, a kind of universal public sphere in Habermas sense, which has no particular center as its point of reference - neither country, place, nor even continent, and which is not comprised of representatives of specific localities but of citizens of the world.
29. Pablo Navarro: A Meta-Information Society? The Increasing Differentiation Between Information And Communication In The Digital Age.
In preliterate societies, (linguistic) information and communication are almost coextensive aspects of a single phenomenon: (linguistic) information is just the content of oral communication, and this information does not objectively exist aside from that communication. The diffusion of writing establishes a first substantial distinction between information and communication. In a literate social environment, written information is an artificial carrier-of-meaning that allows actual communication to occur (through reading). This basic distinction between carriers-of-information and actual communication, develops in the complex documental and media environment which is typical of modern societies.
In the digital age, a further distinction appears: the distinction between two types ot information, Communication Information and Process Information or Meta-Information. Communication Information is the sort of information that is adressed to, and can be directly interpreted by, human individuals. Process Information is the kind of information which is not directly interpreted by the individuals whom it is adressed to, but shapes and makes available the corresponding Communication Information offered to those individuals.
Process Information constitutes an increasingly dense, pervasive and powerful meta-informational level that not only moulds Information Communication, but the whole realm of computer mediated social interaction, globally embodied in the Internet. The development of this Meta-Information not just as a medium, but as a genuine factor of communication, through the implementation of autonomous Software Agents, heralds a new era in the evolution of the human social systems, the age of Artificial Sociality, driven by Sociorobotic Systems of ever increasing complexity.
30. Vyacheslav Navrotsky: The Application of General Systems Theory to Understanding Societal Change in Russia.
During the 20th century Russia has perhaps experienced more difficulties than any other country. Revolutions, wars, mass starvation and terror, the disintegration of the state, and sudden changes in socio-economic order and state ideology. When looking at this history, it is natural to pose the question of how this history can be summed up. Of course, the answer will depend on one's specific point of view. The historian, philosopher, economist or writer will all look at it differently. The author has tried to adopt the stance of Systems Theory and Sociocybernetics. The main objective of the work is not to arrive at a formal description of what has been going on in Russia. Such a description is only a method through which to try to understand some conformity to natural laws. Our aim is to understand the logic of what has been happening. And the question is of more than academic importance: it is commonly recognized that what has been going on in Russia will affect all humankind.
The basic aim of the study was thus to construct a general picture of the evolution of Russian society in accordance with Systems Theory and with an emphasis on the way society is managed. This particular paper will focus on the problems that were encountered in doing this and in attempting to see how to make use of the theoretical insights so gained.
31. Otto van Nieuwenhuijze: "Sustainability: Control Politics in Disguise - Overturning, not Overhauling, the Paradigm
The term "Sustainability", although considered to be fashionable, refers to a now obsolete way of thinking. No longer can we act as if we can deal with Control as a form of Domination, be it in Ecological, Sociological or Political systems. The approach that we can deal with point (locus) of Control, was still accepted in Euclidean/Cartesian/Newtonian thinking, but should be considered 'toxic' now. Relativity, Quantum and now Field Theory, made it all too clear that we are not 'outsiders' of/to reality; and we can no longer consider any of our acts without fully accounting for all effects and side effects. That makes us no longer 'Controllers' of reality; but Creators of our realisations. 'Sustainability' plays no role in this, as the processes involved are by nature autopoietic; and their integration determined the dynamic integrity, i.e. vitality. This is a consequence of the transition of the Classical physical Point Model of science, via the Relativistic chemical Wave Model and the Probabilistic E-M Cluster Statistical (Multiple point model) to the integrated wholistic field hologram concept.This means that we need to shift our perspective, from 'process regulative/controlling' to 'integrative/healing'.In this, models for Health and Healing are representative for the dynamics involved, instead of models of 'control'. Herein "Autarchy" takes the place of 'Hierarchy'; steering from within take the place of directing from outside.As at present many people in the Social Sciences are still very dependent on the hierarchic control model (Control Theories are Control Politics), they might be amongst the first to be opposed to the shift that is needed; from 'sustainable' systems, to "healthy" vital systems.Conversely, as they have such interest in working with dynamic social systems, they can be amongst the first to benefit from understanding this change in approach; and could be the leaders in the transition of 'control from outside' to integrity from within.
32. Mohamed Nemiche & Rafael Pla-Lopez: A Model Of Dual Evolution Of Humanity
There are many global models of evolution of humanity. Nevertheless, its real evolution has had a strong duality (East-West, North-South, Center-Periphery...). Thus, to build mathematical models of such dual evolution can help us to understand the implicated processes. Is this a random process which amplify local perturbations, or it depends on natural geographical conditions, or a combination of both? Which role is played by the capacity of each social system to impact on far systems? Which influence has the difference in repression on other behaviours in the same social system? The dualism is only a synchronic fact, or there are different lines of evolution? A dual evolution limits the scope of the globalization, or the globalization can overcome the dualism? This eventual overcoming is done through the dominance of a side of through a convergence of different lines of evolution?
33. John Raven: The Development and Use of Systems Diagrams to Improve Educational and Social Policy, with particular reference to sustainability.
Research conducted over some thirty years and involving scores of thousands of people gradually revealed deeper and deeper barriers to the introduction of an effective educational system. At first, the barriers seemed to have to do with the absence of appropriate understandings of curriculum and assessment processes. But then, particularly as the problems involved in catering for diversity became clearer, it emerged that we were dealing with a system into which it was impossible to introduce change piece-meal since the effects of a change in any one part were negated by the reactions of the rest of the system. But equally it became clear that no central prescription for system-wide change could possibly work because change was needed in every nook and cranny of the system and no one knew, or could know, all the changes that were required. What was needed was a management system which was, in some sense, at least as complex as the system to be managed.
In an attempt to move forward, an effort was made to map the systems processes at work along the lines illustrated by Morgan in Images of Organisation. At Panticosa, the difficulties involved in generating a comprehensive map will be illustrated, as will the difficulties involved in using that map to clarify the nature of the management system required to manage the system. Following this, the discussion will turn to an attempt to apply the same procedures to the sustainability agenda. Here the problem is to make a change as great as that involved in moving from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural society with no better blueprint of, and no more information about the nature of, the requisite social arrangements than was available to those who lived in a hunter-gatherer society. The material will be drawn from the authors Managing Education for Effective Schooling: The Most Important Problem is to Come to Terms with Values and The New Wealth of Nations: A New Enquiry into the Nature and Origins of the Wealth of Nations and the Societal Learning Arrangements Needed for a Sustainable Society.
34. Stephen Schecter: Globalization Is Not The Tyranny of the Market
As its title implies, this paper argues that globalization is more than simply the tyranny of the market. Indeed, in line with Luhmanns systems theory, it is theoretically inconsistent to argue that any social sphere can dominate all of society. Instead, globalization has to be seen as a world-wide process of increasing internal differentiation and inclusion, a process which poses particular problems for sociological analysis and for social life, among which can be counted the democratization of aesthetic experience and increased pressures on social resources in the widest sense of the term. More specifically, this means that political interference in the economy has to take into account the self-referential functioning of the economy as a separate social system, setting up a two-way process of reciprocal influence to deal with contingency in the form, for example, of financial crises and human rights issues. It also means that the market itself is best understood as an emergent reality, and in this way the rereading of the significance of the market, pace Keynes, goes hand in hand with Luhmanns rereading of modernity. This requires us to revise the classical readings of modernity (Marx, Durkheim, Weber) that also hinged on a particular reading of the sociological pertinence of the economic sphere to an understanding of society. These classical paradigms and the political discourse of left and right which they inspired no longer offer useful descriptions of what is going on.
35. Michael Schreiber and Dimitrios Tsagdis: Observing self-construction: Shadows of local, national, and international (economic) objects
Sociocybernetic studies can be seen as part of a non-classical approach to knowledge generation and accumulation. That is, trying to generate and accumulate two types of knowledge, i.e. of that and how. The first type refers to knowledge about the social system in question and the world in which this knowledge applies, whereas the second one refers to knowledge about how to combine the first type of knowledge in the world in which it applies.
Seen from this perspective four major difficulties of the traditional (i.e. classical and neo-classical) approach are identified in the paper. Two of them are shared, and two are unique.
The former ones can be summarised as evolving around the recourse to languages with pre-determined semantics (e.g. of variables, of decisions) and the way interference from any action that influences the way knowledge is generated and/or accumulated is dealt with.
The latter ones, in the case of the classical approach can be summarised as evolving around the requirement for the visual identification of scientific (social) objects, whereas in the case of the neo-classical approach around the use of a centralised intent (e.g. of a National Census Bureau, of a researcher). All four difficulties have wide ranging implications for the worlds of everyday life and research as well as for the interaction between the two worlds.
Sociocybernetic studies attempt to address these difficulties by heeding the semantics of the social system in question and at the same time exploiting the observers ability to re-enter his/her distinctions both in the domains of observation and description. This can be easily witnessed by the frequent use of self as a first composite in such studies (e.g. self-organisation, self-construction).
The paper aims for a progressive shift in the sociocybernetic programme by proposing a generalised method to grey code distinctions in order to make visible both the process of re-entering ones distinctions and the changes taking place on the observed as a result of it.
To illustrate the superiority of the method against the traditional alternative (i.e. bar-charting), secondary data from a comparative study of six opto-electronic industry clusters in Europe and the USA are used. The method is evaluated and found to constitute an improvements over the traditional method both in the world of everyday life (e.g. in terms of the networks of observations and actions involved in paradigmatic operations) and in the world of research (e.g. in terms of the type of objects involved). Policy implications and recommendations are drawn concerning future non-classical studies and the meta-analysis of past ones.
36. Bernard Scott: A design for the recursive construction of learning communities.
A major challenge in educational research is to disseminate findings effectively. It is proposed that the solution lies in establishing a theory-grounded, evidenced-based approach to learning and teaching as part of the culture of educational systems and institutions. The conversation theory (CT) of Pask and Scott provides both an evidence-based, theoretical model for guiding good practice in learning and teaching and also, when applied iteratively, recursively and propagatively, provides a model for how to produce the desired culture change. CT distinguishes peformance, cognitive and reflective learning outcomes. The latter are a kind of cognitive outcome where the focus is on "learning to learn". In "learning to learn", students are encouraged to develop and deploy metacognitive strategies and tactics in order to monitor and modify behaviour and attitudes . The paper describes the iterative, recursive, propagative (IRP) form of CT. "Iterative" refers to reflective practice which has a commitment to continuous improvement. "Recursive" refers to vertical dissemination of good practice within an organisation. "Propagative" refers to horizontal dissemination. The paper also describes the "glass walls, floors and ceilings" that hinder dissemination, with references to empirical studies and the author's own experiences of using action research to bring about culture change. The IRP model has general applicability to organisations that would aspire to be "learning communities". The paper relates the IRP model to other seminal work on "viable systems" and "learning organisations" (Beer, Revans, Harri-Augstein and Thomas).
37. Karl-Heinz Simon: Systems-theoretical foundations of scenarios of future development: Bossels Earth at a Crossroads
The systems movement has always had a certain sympathy with normative concepts and many of their representatives were trying to integrate notions of ought into system descriptions and proposals for systems development. The field of inquiry into sustainable development involves interesting challenges for such an integration. The question, nevertheless, remains unanswered, if and how guidelines for future development can be built on sound systems-theoretical ground.
H. Bossel, a renowned contemporary German systems theorist, recently made public his Earth at the Crossroad in which he tries to outline two paradigmatic paths of societys future development. We describe essential issues of his approach, discuss them in the light of systems-theoretical justification and look for steps in his argumentation where some weaknesses might influence the stringency of his inferences and where alternative concepts might fit into the problem treatment.
38. Aleksandr P. Tishchenko, Vjacheslav E. Voitsekhovich: The condition of regular bothway movement «globalisation - regularisation» as necessary condition of stable development.
Modern globalization is based on world processes in financial, industrial, social, political and informational spheres. National politics of individual countries is submitted to globalization more and more. Modern regionalization is a trend of some civilization centres, countries, ethnoses, communities to self-preservation, to self-identity.
The rule of the golden mean (Aristoteles, Hegel ...) recommends to avoid the extremes, to rise the synthesis of the opposites. «Pure» globalization and «pure» regionalization are the deadlocks of development. The self-organization, the regular oscillating movement of mankind between globalization and regionalization is leading to a sustainable development.
Today monopole world and traditional polypole world are not being created, but polylevelic and high-mobile, international and interstate net is being created. Controlled oscillated self-organization will promote universal globalization. It based on: a) new scientific paradigm, b) philosophy and policy of nonviolence.
«Technogenic» civilization (XVI - XX c.) is being changed into noospheric civilization (its elements are postindustrial and informational societies). The noospheric teaching had been worked out by V.I. Vernadsky and Teilhard de Charden. The old mechanic paradigm is being changed by the new synergetic paradigm based on philosophical thesis The being is fractals (one of the authors (professor V.E. Voitsekhovich) has worked out the method of synergetic forecasting).
39. Henk J.L. Voets : Systems Theory And Self-Organisation
As a result of radical changes in the environment future environmental constellations cannot be explicitly forecast and the systems, including the business organisations cannot be designed to respond to the generation of specific, definable behavioural modes. That is why we have to conceive a system/organisation in such a way that, within delimitable behavioural fields, it has the ability to generate the required specific behavioural modes (Ulrich 1984).
Here we will concentrate on the improvement of the abilities of a special type of social system: the business organisation.
Self-organisation has been considered as one of the most important ways to realise an improvement in business organisations. Self-organisation and participation can be seen as social phenomena, the common ground of nowadays more popular phenomena in the sphere of business organisations, like decentralisation and autonomy, productivity through people (in a lot of Human Resource Management literature), empowerment and entrepreneurship of workers. We will argue that self-organisation and participation may result in the formation of a system that has important elements of an autopoietic system (Zeleny and Hufford, 1992).
A form of financial participation has sometimes accompanied self-organisation by workers. We will argue, on the basis of theory and research on financial participation by workers, that in this form the economic system will not be destroyed, but surely modified, and sometimes to a great extent (Spear and Voets, 1995). The (neo-) classical economic theory is not able to cope with these processes of change in social systems (Lazonick 1991, and Hodgson 1993).
Nicolis and Prigogine (1977) observed that wherever we look, we discover evolutionary processes leading to diversification and increasing complexity. From the foregoing it will be clear that these processes also can be observed in business organisations.
Furthermore Nicolis and Prigogine have stressed the importance of self-organisation in physical and biological systems. Here we will give attention to the importance of self-organisation for social systems and, especially for business organisations as social systems.
Hodgson, G.M., Economics and evolution, Polity Press, Cambridge 1993.
Lazonick, W., Business Organisation and the myth of the market economy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1991.
Nicolis, G. and I. Prigogine, Self-organization in Nonequilibrium Systems, John Wiley and Sons Inc., New York 1977.
Spear, Roger and Henk Voets (eds.), Success and Enterprise, Avebury, Aldershot 1995.
Ulrich, H., Management A Misunderstood Societal Function, in: H. Ulrich and G.J.B. Probst, Self-Organization and Management of Social Systems, Springer Verlag, Berlin 1984.
Zeleny, M. and K.D. Hufford, The Application of Autopoiesis in Systems Analysis: Are Autopoietic Systems Also Social Systems? In: International Journal of General Systems, vol. 21, 1992.
40. John Wood: Unmanaging the butterfly: 'co-sustainment' and the grammar of agency
"I never cared for life, life cared for me, and now I owe it some fidelity".
Why is the word 'sustainability' so confusing? Maybe because it evokes a mixture of ancient, socio-religious beliefs and aspirations. This paper also reminds us that it was coined well after the 'Limits to Growth' debates of the seventies and around the same time as 'green consumerism'. It therefore incorporates a confused agenda and borrows from the dominant but incompatible discourses of techno-science and consumer-centred economics. Implicitly, 'sustainability' is somehow synonymous with 'survival' but it is seldom clear whether 'nature', technology or capital is the prime object of (our?) sustainment. (...surely, they sustain us?) Pragmatic models of sustainability (e.g. Brundtland, 1987) tacitly support ideas of competitive production and consumption for sustaining global well-being via (moderated) economic growth.
Similar agendas permeate the recent rhetoric of the digital culture. Examples are the egocentric techno-utopian vision of Richard Branson ("silicon socialism"" ), and what Bill Gates calls "capitalism without friction"). Arguably, although these ideas may be identified with 'sustainable consumption' they mask obvious questions such as what sustains what, and for how long. Unfortunately, western grammars of "subject-verb-object" may fail to define the richly co-creative and co-dependent nature of ecological systems. The paper suggests that if we must use terms such as 'sustainability', it should be used as a non-temporal catalyst to local and immediate levels of action, rather than for framing long term desires at the macro level. Here, the inalienable complementarity of autopoeisis and apoptosis should legitimate what we can now welcome as 'co-sustainment'.
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created: March 19,2000
updated: March 20, 2000