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Association Française
de Science des Systèmes
Union Européenne
de Systémique
6th European Congress on SYSTEMS SCIENCE

19 - 22 septembre 2005
with the patronage of UNESCO

At the
École Nationale Supérieure d'Arts et Métiers
151 Boulevard de l'Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France

ISA - Research Committee 51 on Sociocybernetics

"Social Complexities from the Individual to Cyberspace"

AIS - Association Internationale de Sociologie - Asociación Internacional de Sociología
ISA - International Sociological Association

Bernd R. Hornung, President RC51
Danièle Bourcier, RC51 Symposion Organizer
Felix Geyer, Honorary President RC51
Vessela Misheva, Vice-President RC51
Richard E. Lee, Secretary RC51


This booklet contains the short abstracts of the papers to be delivered during our sessions at the 6th Congress of the European Systems Science Union (ESSU) in Paris, France, September 19-22, 2005. For the first time in the history of RC51 sessions are organized in cooperation with ESSU and AFSCET, the French Systems Science Association, in France.

For your convenience this booklet contains a detailed overview with the authors' names and the titles of their papers per session. This overview is followed by the abstracts, arranged alphabetically according to the last name of the first author. The authors themselves are fully responsible for the contents and the formulations of their abstracts. Each abstract mentions the email address of the author. Thus, in case you want a copy of the paper and cannot get hold of either the author or the paper in Paris, you can contact him or her afterwards.

This booklet will primarily be distributed to RC51 members participating in our sessions, and to the extent it is still available also to other interested participants of the congress. Our website at will also carry the abstracts reproduced here, while you can find there also the abstracts of papers presented in our sessions at the 1998 and 2002 World Congresses of Sociology in Montreal and Brisbane, and the International Conferences on Sociocybernetics: Kolimbari, Crete, 1999; Panticosa, Spanish Pyrenees, 2000; Leon, Guajanuato, Mexico, 2001, Corfu, Greece, 2003, Lisbon, Portugal, 2004, Maribor, Slovenia, 2005. For those interested, our website also contains website addresses of our members, a bibliography on sociocybernetics, and four volumes of our biannual Journal of Sociocybernetics which started publication in 2000.

Those interested in RC51 membership should contact RC51 treasurer Diane Laflamme ( for more detailed information. In case you have any comments or criticisms on any of the papers presented, even if only after the congress, please do not hesitate to contact the authors: they will surely appreciate your reactions.

Felix Geyer
Honorary President,
ISA - RC51 on Sociocybernetics



Session 1: Sociocybernetic Principles and Practice
(In French) Chair: Diane Laflamme (Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada)
08:30–09:10: Bernd R. Hornung, Principes de la sociocybernétique - Principles of Sociocybernetics
09:10–09:50: Jacques & Maria Van Bockstaele, Martine Godard-Plasman, Marie-Noëlle Pécout, Systèmes cybernétiques et socianalyse
09:50–10:30: Diane Laflamme, La constitution du sens en situation de complexité, une proposition de Niklas Luhmann inspirée de la phénoménologie husserlienne
Coffee Break

Session 2: Sociocybernetic Approaches to Scientific Disciplines
Chair: Lucio Biggiero (LUISS University, Rome,Italy)
11:00–11:45: Bernard Scott, Simon Shurville, Epistemological Unification of the Disciplines: The Contributions of Sociocybernetics
11:45–12:30: Matjaz Mulej, Vojko Potokan, Bojan Rosi, Ethics of Interdependence - Solution for Conflicts Between Systemic and Specialistic Thinking

Lunch Break

Session 3: Sociocybernetic Methodology I
Chair: Bernard Scott (Cranfield University, Defence Academy,
Shrivenham, UK)
14:00–14:40: Marilena Lunca, Cross-, Inter-, and Transdisciplinary Methodologies for Anticipative Systems
14:40–15:20: Arne Collen, Sociocybernetic Systemic Flows and Emerging Complexities in the Conduct of Human Inquiry
15:20–16:00: Lucio Biggiero, Enrico Sevi, The Effects of Structural and Relational Complexity on Group Performance, Results from an Agent-based Simulation Model

Coffee Break

Session 4: Sociocybernetic Epistemology
Chair: Arne Collen (Saybrook Graduate School, San Francisco,
16:30–17:10: Klaus E. Anders, The Circular Question "Why?" - Its Relevance for Sociocybernetic Analysis
17:10–17:50: Francisco Parra-Luna, In Search of "La Mancha"
- A Sociocybernetic Approach to the Question "Where?"
17:50–18:30: Nicholas Paritsis, Social Holons and Their Epistemology
- The Question "What"?


Session 5: Sociocybernetic Perspectives
(In French) Chair: Bernd R. Hornung (Marburg University, Marburg, Germany)
08:30–09:10: Marie-Noëlle Sarget, -Approche systémique de la marginalité sociale /-/ Systemic Approach to Social Marginality -
09:10–09:50: Marie-Claude Dupré, Les trois limites// The Three Limits

09:50–10:30: Panel Discussion:
(In English) Sociocybernetics - Science of Social Complexities?


Klaus E. Anders (Universität Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany)

The Circular Question "Why?" - Its Relevance for Sociocybernetic Analysis

The cognitive objective of sociology is the analysis and explanation of the structure of society, the conditions of social change, and the systematics of individual action. The question "why" provokes in such a context reflections about the object of observations and leads to relativizing the view and perspective of the analyzing observer. The answers to a why-questions are in their turn transformed into new why-questions, so that a circular way of asking or analyzing is the result. Sometimes this reminds us of the curiosity of children asking "Why, why, why?", a curiosity which we had to abandon as it is supposedly culturally inappropriate. If it is taken into account that each observer is himself part of the system observed - society - in particular this property is indispensable for analyzing social relations. In the relationship between subject and object changing positions result in which, similar to a communicative control circuit, causes and effects can be made evident going back to the existential monistic origins (Monism, Wilhelm Ostwald, 1853-1932).

Also in other types of societal systems, in which a subject-object-scheme is to be found in a rigidified and reified way, questions about "why" lead, among others, to reflections about the power of definition and the power of distribution of resources.

Taklng into account the program of rational choice theories, two practical examples will be presented dealing with the analysis of individual action in the family. These examples will demonstrate which difficulties are likely to appear if "why" questions are asked. The contradiction of conformity of role behavior and equal rights is also in Western Cultures frequently a contradiction resulting in self-destructive action. It needs to be discussed to what extent the technique of analysis proposed here can lead to a better understanding of acting individuals.

Lucio Biggiero, Enrico Sevi (LUISS University, Rome, Italy)

The Effects of Structural and Relational Complexity on Group Performance - Results from an Agent-Based Simulation Model

The question of group performance is one of the most central in organization science. Focusing on technological interdependence, we will identify and define the fundamental types of systemic couplings: parallel, sequential and reciprocal (by feedback). Then we will formalize and simulate its characteristics and effects through an agent-based model.

We measure and order the relational complexity, that is, the degree of complexity of each systemic coupling (technological interdependence between tasks), and the structural complexity, that is, the task complexity, which is measured by the number of components per task and by the length of the components. Group performance will be measured by means of two main indexes: effectiveness, which refers to the percentage of completed tasks in respect to those potentially executable; and efficiency, which refers to the resources employed for getting the completed tasks.

We analyze the variation of group performance depending on relational and structural complexity. Furthermore we examine also the effects of group size and the mutual effects between size and complexity. Moreover we distinguish between working groups whose tasks are connected by one single type of interdependence (parallel, sequential or reciprocal), and groups whose tasks are connected by a mix of different types of interdependencies, because this latter is a more realistic situation. Finally, we analyze both the cases of giving all the tasks at the beginning –the stock case- and of a constant flow of giving tasks –the flux case- in each interval (step) of the working time.

The most general and important conclusions are that: i) listing in order of increasing degree of complexity, parallel is followed by sequential and then by reciprocal interdependence; ii) increasing structural complexity the groups whose tasks are connected by the reciprocal interdependence, which is the highest relational complexity, do perform better, both in terms of efficiency and effectiveness; iii) by increasing group size in terms of number of agents, the relative advantages of reciprocal interdependence in treating structural complexity decreases. Indeed, between structural complexity in terms of number of components and group size in terms of number of agents there is a complex mathematical and empirical relationship, which will be investigated too.

Arne Collen (Saybrook Graduate School, San Francisco, CA, USA)

Sociocybernetic Systemic Flows and Emerging Complexities in the Conduct of Human Inquiry

This paper articulates several sociocybernetic and systemic aspects of the research process characteristic of inquiry into phenomena affiliated with human activities and human organizations. Emphasis is given to social dynamics and problems that can be mapped via first and second order sociocybernetic relations across different levels of complexity, from the person to the human dyad to the small group to the larger human organization. As practiced, human inquirers employ research procedures that consume resources and have consequences, all of which merit inclusion in the planning and execution of inquiry for and with human beings. All too often limitations in thought, paucity of information and knowledge about how research processes work, absence of systemic thinking applied to human inquiry, and changing circumstances while conducting inquiry bring about undesired and unexpected results. Researching under constantly changing conditions poses ongoing challenges. Much is at stake, given globalizing trends due to human activities worldwide. Making visible the layers of complexity involved in the conduct of human inquiry affords opportunities to steer research processes in the most constructive, efficacious, and productive directions. Various cybernetic and systemic relations, illustrated by select case research studies, are given, and the meaning of various vantage points are considered, namely, the human participant, the principal investigator, the host institution, the funding agency, the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and the bystander. The IRB considers the potential impact of research procedures on human beings. Given that the particular IRB discussed in this paper carries out its review in cyberspace, this human activity system provides a unique innovation and relation in the relative macro and micro flows defining the research cycle. The meanings and consequencesy of the various perspectives, the phases of the research cycle, the context and circumstances of inquiry, and the levels of complexity form a substantive research activity system that is the focal human organization of this paper. Some implications for and relevance to other human organizations conclude the paper.

Marie-Claude Dupré (Viverols, France)

Les trois limites

L'être humain vit dans un système fermé dont les limites sont les régulations de la géo-biosphère indispensables à sa vie. Toutes ses décisions, et leurs effets, sont liées à la position qu'il occupe par rapport aux limites indépassables de la biosphère.

Après la chute du mur de Berlin, en 1989, la mondialisation a remplacé le système bi-polaire qui, depuis Hiroshima, depuis que l'humanité peut s'auto-détruire, définissait une politique fondée sur la dissuasion nucléaire. Les leaders d'aujourd'hui décrivent un système économique ouvert qui, par leur bonne gouvernance, se développe indéfiniment en volume, en transactions commerciales ou boursières, en productivité et… en dépenses de santé, accroissement caractéristique d'un univers sans limites.

L'équilibre de la terreur s'est transformé en modèle de stabilité mondiale où les accidents n'ont pas d'effet irréversible. Ce ne sont que des plis, fronces, catastrophes comme les a décrits René Thom, événements inévitables, comme la houle et les vagues d'un océan immortel. Il suffit de calculer les probabilités -les risques- de leur occurrence. La prospective devient simple jeu de hasard et l'homme une variable d'ajustement.

Or, la mondialisation est un système enfermé dans des limites bien réelles mais non rencontrées jusqu'alors. Le développement tel qu'il est défini par les leaders de l'économie globalisée va épuiser les ressources du globe et détruire les équilibres biologiques qui se sont constitués pendant quelques milliards d'années. Effet de serre, nouveaux virus et pandémies larvées, empoisonnement généralisé de l'eau douce, de l'air et des sols accompagnent depuis un demi-siècle une expansion économique indifférente à ses conséquences sur l'environnement.

La gouvernance, entendue comme réflexion prospective, est à replacer dans une limite centrale, axe d'oscillation entre la limite indépassable des cycles naturels et les besoins flexibles des sociétés humaines.

Bernd R. Hornung (Marburg University, Marburg, Germany)

Principles of Sociocybernetics

The paper aims at providing a short introductory outline of what is sociocybernetics, how it relates to (general) system theory and cybernetics, and it will illustrate how some of its basic principles can be applied to sociology.

Sociocybernetics is defined as the application of systems science and first and second order cybernetics to sociology and other social sciences. The paper will then briefly sketch in which way systems science and cybernetics, at a meta-disciplinary level, constitute a paradigm in the sense of Thomas S. Kuhn. A third part of the paper will be devoted to identifying some of the basic principles of system theory and cybernetics like circular causality, positive and negative feedback, steering and control, goal-orientation, information processing and communication, boundaries and boundary maintenance, interrelated components, holon-property and emergence, and finally self-organization/self-reference and the observer-dependence of all knowledge in the context of second order cybernetics. Limitations of time may lead to not dealing with all of these concepts in the presentation.

The final part of the paper will illustrate how (some of) these concepts can be applied to the objects of sociological investigation. It is proposed that social systems are composed basically of individuals (e.g. according to the view of Maturana and Varela) and that there are interrelationships which are both (physical) action and communication. Action and communication are most often inseparable from each other. Individuals are conceived as actor-systems which can form higher level non-individual actor-systems, e.g. groups or organizations. As information-processing systems such collective actor-systems permit to integrate concepts like culture, social structure, goal-directedness, and values.

Diane Laflamme (Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada)

La constitution du sens en situation de complexité, une proposition de Niklas Luhmann inspirée de la phénoménologie husserlienne

La phénoménologie husserlienne a fait de la constitution du sens un thème central et c’est à elle que se réfère le sociologue et théoricien de la cybernétique du second ordre Niklas Luhmann pour élaborer une classification des systèmes observateurs à l’intérieur de laquelle ce qu’il appelle les systèmes psychiques et les systèmes sociaux sont présentés comme appartenant à une même catégorie, les systèmes capables de « constituer » du sens (ce que Luhmann exprime en anglais par la catégorie meaning-constituting systems).

On ne trouve pas chez Luhmann de théorie sur l’existence ou l’essence des systèmes, mais un questionnement : comment le monde et le sens sont-il constitués par les systèmes qui observent qu’il existe un monde, qu’il existe du sens et qui opèrent en situation de complexité – la notion de complexité servant ici à indiquer qu’il existe toujours plus de possibilités d’expérience et d’action que ce que le système est en mesure d’actualiser. Comment un système-observateur du monde, du sens et de sa propre émergence en tant que système en arrive-t-il à se constituer lui-même en réduisant la complexité ?

La réponse que Luhmann propose à ces questions garde un lien direct avec la phénoménologie husserlienne et c’est ce que nous tenterons de mettre en lumière en explorant deux des propositions de Luhmann, celle portant sur les trois dimensions du sens et celle décrivant le processus en quatre temps qui permet au sens de se constituer par actualisation, désactualisation, réactualisation et re-virtualisation.

Marilena Lunca (E-AIPS, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Cross-, Inter-, and Transdisciplinary Methodologies for Anticipative Systems

Because anticipating the systems’ need for future adjustments goes far beyond the conventional anticipative systems, science takes a particular interest in methodologies that ensure scientific (rather than managerial or policy making) anticipation. Anticipation is not just a guess of what may occur, but an informed design of what should occur. This holds for any system that processes information in order to asses its future state.
The study concentrates on defining methodological theories required for solving problems that only science can solve, and on which the likelihood of one future over alternative futures depends. Based on definitions of key terms, it is argued that:
&Mac183; Problem-solving is the main reason for moving from disciplinary to cross-, inter-, or transdisciplinary research, or a combination thereof, and
&Mac183; Successful solution seeking (solvability) is a function of the (formal) language in which a solving strategy is defined and applied.
Since logos differentiates methodology from method, seeds of a theory are already cast in the form of choosing the appropriate method(s) for a particular problem. It is shown how the incipient logos can develop into a fully explicit theory of the system (of languages and methods) in which a solution is sought.
Knowing that the more difficult it is to solve a problem, the less monodisciplinary the solving strategy. The task of methodological theories is to control directly the sequencing of cross-, inter-, trans-, or disciplinary phases within a solving programme.

Matja_ Mulej, Vojko Poto_an (University of Maribor, Faculty of Economics and Business, Maribor, Slovenia)
Bojan Rosi (Public Agency for Railway, and University of Maribor, Faculty of Logistics, Celje and Kr_ko, Slovenia)

Ethics of Interdependence – Solution for Conflicts Between Systemic and Specialistic Thinking

The modern amount of knowledge results in hundred thousand professions. Specialists are unavoidable. Their thinking is limited to their selected viewpoints and parts of reality, thus one-sided but deep perhaps. Mutually exclusive different specializations cause conflicts (»Who is right?«) and complementarity (»Everybody is right partially«), hence they cause interdependence (= needing each other for differences). They hardly teach us (1) interdisciplinary cooperation, and (2) ethics of interdependence (= interdisciplinary cooperation feels right). Specialists with more of these capacities create even more benefit. They risk less oversights and develop more systemic/holistic thinking. (Systems theory emerged against over-specialisation and for holism, right after the two world wars and the economic crisis of 1914-1945.) Specialization and holism have existed for millennia; total holism (= including all attributes) remains impossible, requisite holism (= including all essential attributes from a synergy/system of all essential viewpoints) conditions success. Many methods support interdisciplinary cooperation, including Dialectical Systems Theory, Dialectical Network Thinking, Decision Making Standardization, etc. Specialists need will and knowledge to use them. People can solve conflicts between specialization and holism: about 17% of us are co-operators, about 20% free-riders, the majority adapts to the prevailing ones by psychology/nature. Ethics of interdependence motivates people to apply these capacities better.

Nicholas Paritsis
(Laboratory of Cybernetics and Systems Behavior, University of Crete, Greece)

Social Holons and their Epistemology

A description of a social system needs at least at three levels, namely the level of the elements, of their properties, and the level of the system as a whole with its emergent properties, to be considered beneficial. A social system can be defined as an interdependent and interacting set of persons and their artifacts, of their properties, of their relations including their communication, and of the emergent properties of the social system, including culture, in the context of its social and physical environment.

Social holons are here considered as social systems that are organized in holons. A family, a community, a town, a county, nation, a sociocultural system, all belong to social holons. Each holon influences the others. Living systems as open systems have a continuous interaction and adaptation to their environments together with their effort to control and benefit from them. Hence the perception of the environment in a realistic way is important in order to survive, control, and adapt.

The property of auto-synthesis in living intelligence enables the system to maintain itself against the changes of the environment and at the same time to adapt itself, namely its structure, function, and behavior, to achieve and maintain compatibility with its environment. The living system does not freely construct its reality but it forms and synthesizes a reality to the extent that it enables the system to control and to be adapted to its environment.

The epistemology of social holons will be examined from three aspects. The first is the usefulness of description at three levels, the second is the consideration of the interactional epistemology and the third is, that in the case of the human and social world the meta-systems knowledge and aspect has to be evaluated at a higher degree.

Francisco Parra-Luna (Universidad Complutense (Somosaguas), Madrid, Spain)

In Search of "La Mancha" - A Sociocybernetic Approach

Four centuries have passed without knowing the geographical situaction of the famous “Site of La Mancha” in the novel don Quixote. Nevertheless, a systemic approach seems to be able to discover, geographically, where is this site with an acceptable degree of scientific security. This approach has been carried out by a team of interdisciplinary researchers of the University Complutense of Madrid. The results are based on the following system of syllogistic propositions:

a) If the “site of La Mancha” is, according to Cervantes, within the “Campo de Montiel” (Foreword; Chapters I, VII and LII of the first part, and Chapter VII of the second part).

b) If, situated in the “Sierra Morena” (Venta de Cárdenas), the priest of the village said: “If that is so (the necessity to go to Cartagena), then we have to (pass) cross half of my village, and from there, you take de direction towards Cartagena”.

c) If in the text of Don Quixote it is said that the site of la Mancha is two days away from Puerto Lápice; two days away from Sierra Morena (Venta de Cárdenas); two days and one night away from El Toboso; and finally one day and one night away from the Tarfe point. This is information about four points that makes the problem a problem of topological computation.

d) And even more, if Cervantes says (implicitily) that the velocity of Rocinante/Rucio on the way from Puerto Lapice to Sierra Morena was between 30 and 35 kms/day (Chapters XI to XXVII, First Part),

e) Then, without modifying a comma of the text of Cervantes, we can enunciate, as a scientific hypothesis, that the “Site of la Mancha” is determined quite clearly by Cervantes himself.

After a brief description of the concept of system, this article enunciates some of the advantages systems science is providing today, along with the major tendencies that can be discerned in the direction of present studies of literary objects like novels. These include renewed epistemological attention to the observer-subject, the growing importance of the role played by the Internet as a world wide information system, the preponderance of the systemic approach in modern theories of literature, the appearance of critical system theories that attempt to counterbalance certain hard methodologies considered to be overly conservative, the appearance of new schools of thought addressing systemic ethics that confront what is actually done with what ought to be done, or the tendency to integrate theoretical and methodological approaches as thoroughly as possible. These are some of the trends that seem to be attracting most attention in the profession. That is why another major concern is the content analysis of texts that can be carried out on the basis of system theory. In this paper the well known novel of Cervantes “Don Quixote de la Mancha” is analyzed with the aim of localizing geographically the site where Don Quixote and Sancho Panza were born.

We have to remember that the idea associated with the word “system” has become extraordinarily universal, used profusely “urbi et orbi”, both in the sense attributed to it by systems science and in the wider and less precise meaning which it has in common usage. In the latter case, ´system´ is generally used to express one of the following two concepts: a set of interacting material or symbolic elements or the repetition of facts or phenomena that recur “systematically”. The scientific concept of system, however, even in the most general sense, is defined by rather precise features, namely: a) it is a whole the breakdown of which into separate parts would alter its significance; b) the role of the separate parts cannot be understood outside the context of the whole into which they are integrated; c) the total is not equal to the sum of the parts; rather, the existence of the set implies that there is something “additional”, be it positive or negative, which generally renders the mere sum inaccurate; and d) the modification of any given part has an effect on the other (mechanical, biological, social, etc.) parts of the system.

From a formal perspective the most general concept of system (S) can be defined, according to Mario Bunge, as follows:


Where R is the set of relations that affects elements a, b, ….. n.

Whereas the word “system” is used imprecisely and ubiquitously, strange as it may seem, epistemological operations requisite to the scientific concept are used quite rigorously, albeit unconsciously, more often than not. We shall see that the novel “Don Quixote” is a complex compound of 24 relevant variables systemically interrelated which can be analyzed through the following perspectives:

a) The Tarfe Solution
b) The Probabilistic Solution
c) Rank Points Solution
d) Topological Solution
e) Deterministic Solution
f) Solution Through Elimination
g) Sociological Solution.

In this paper the authors arrived at the following two conclusions: first, that within the novel of Cervantes there is an implicit mathematical structure, and second, that this structure can be used to discover both the site of la Mancha (Villanueva de los Infantes, Ciudad Real), and the velocity (34 kms/day) with which Rocinante / Rucio walked.

Marie-Noëlle Sarget (Chercheur à l'EHESS, associée au LADYSS (Paris X)

Approche systémique de la marginalité sociale

Qu'est-ce que la marginalité sociale ? Quels peuvent être sa place et son rôle dans les systèmes sociaux ? Une approche systémique peut-elle apporter des réponses spécifiques à ces questions ?

Cette communication vise à explorer quelques facettes du problème, sans prétendre en faire le tour, en partant de deux ouvrages d'Yves Barel, La marginalité sociale et La reproduction sociale, puis en explorant les rapports marginalité sociale/intégration, et marginalité/démocratie.

Les idées de Barel sur la marginalité sont issues de ses conceptions systémiques sur l' organisation et la reproduction sociale. Il analyse la marginalité dans son rapport avec l'ensemble de la société : la reproduction du sous-système et celle du système sont potentiellement contradictoires, car la différenciation peut secréter des corps étrangers, des sous-systèmes déviants, marginaux, qui font partie intégrante du système, et jouent un rôle dans sa reproduction.

La marginalisation procède de la déconnection, de la dissociation d'éléments à partir de l'entropie, du vieillissement d'un ancien système. Les systèmes en émergence se saisissent de ces éléments dissociés, libérés, pour les intégrer dans de nouvelles combinaisons. Dans cette perspective, la marginalisation est "un phénomène d'exclusion des processus de reproduction et des systèmes socio-culturels les plus importants d'une formation sociale donnée", et non une exclusion totale : ce qui est marginalisé peut être appelé à jouer un rôle dynamique à l'avenir. La marginalité est ainsi un lieu d'expérimentation de nouveaux comportements sociaux et joue le rôle d'un prototype, du fer de lance de la société vers le changement, l'innovation. Elle témoigne de l'existence de stratégies paradoxales, de dédoublements ambigüs, qui ne sont efficaces que dans la mesure où ils restent invisibles.

Il faut, par ailleurs, considérer que l'intégration transforme à la fois le système et l'élément à intégrer, dans leur identité. Ce dernier doit abandonner ce qui n'est pas compatible avec la totalité, pour acquérir ce qui lui permet de s'intégrer. Et le système bénéficie d'autant plus de l'intégration qu'il offre de compatibilité avec l'identité de l'élément intégré, et en valorise les apports... Ce dernier lui permet d'acquérir de la variété, de la complexité, et donc, une capacité supérieure d'adaptation. Le système est ainsi amené à se transformer par l'intégration de nouveaux éléments, qui est donc à la fois une chance et un défi : l'échec de l'intégration témoigne des rigidités du système, et même en démocratie, elle n'est jamais acquise. Elle suppose, au contraire, un effort permanent .

Si de multiples inventions, innovations, créations artistiques ou autres, sont nées de la marginalité scientifique, artistique, religieuse, sociale, économique, il en est de même dans le domaine politique : tout courant contestataire et innovateur commence par être marginal et minoritaire...

De ce point de vue, la supériorité des régimes démocratiques réside dans leur souplesse, leur ouverture, leur capacité à ne pas éliminer, mais au contraire, à valoriser les marginalités et les minorités, à récupérer et canaliser leur potentiel régénérateur et créateur, afin de l'intégrer.

L'intégration des marginalités peut être féconde et source de dynamisme pour les systèmes sociaux et politiques. Par son rôle dans la construction et la résolution de problèmes nouveaux, la marginalité politique conditionne en grande partie leur vitalité et leur capacité de renouvellement, d'adaptation, d'ouverture, et favorise l'extension de la démocratie, là où elle existe... Les systèmes sociaux incapables d'intégration sont menacés de vieillissement et de sclérose...

Bernard Scott, Simon Shurville (Defence Academy, Cranfield University, Shrivenham, UK)

Epistemological Unification of the Disciplines: The Contributions of Sociocybernetics

In order to develop transdisciplinary working across the disciplines, clear epistemological foundations are required. Without these, even simplistic approaches to interdisciplinarity are likely to fail. This is because not only are there perceived to be large differences between disciplines, there are also perceived differences within disciplines. As examples, we cite different paradigms operating within the sciences. We also note the continuing oppositions that divide the humanities from the sciences. Our proposal is that sociocybernetics promises to provide the required unifying metadisciplinary epistemological foundations and transdisciplinary frameworks.

Our analysis is as follows. We acknowledge the unifying role of cybernetics and systems theory for the first order approaches that are taken within all the scientific disciplines. We also note that second order cybernetics provides a satisfying metadisciplinary framework for discerning the causes and cures for the schisms within the natural and cognitive sciences. This satisfying epistemological clarity exists precisely because second order cybernetics uses the concepts and models developed within first order science that, in von Foerster’s phrase, “explain the observer to himself”.

The particular contributions of sociocybernetics are to (i) extend the second order understandings to enlighten and unify the social sciences and (ii) by incorporating extant sociological theory back into the transdisciplinary pursuits of cybernetics and systems theory to enlighten and enrich those pursuits. In order to highlight the power and fruitfulness of these contributions from sociocybernetics, we problematise, deconstruct and reconstruct key concepts concerned with human communication. We take as central the question, “What is a symbol?”

Jacques & Maria Van Bockstaele (Centre de socianalyse, Paris, France)

Martine Godard-Plasman, Marie-Noëlle Pécout (Association d’analyse praxéologique et cognitive, Paris, France)

Systèmes cybernétiques et socianalyse

L’évolution de la démarche cybernétique a progressivement caractérisé le système observé par une dimension intentionnelle ou téléologique, applicable à la machine comme à l'homme et n'introduisant pas dans l'analyse une orientation finaliste (Umpelby & al., 1999). Pour Wiener (1948), un système cybernétique (feedback control system) n’est pas seulement un amplificateur de puissance, il aborde l'intention subjective en tant qu’état final et la conséquence objective, l'état de l'objet qui exécute le comportement à un moment quelconque: la notion d'écart traduit la non coïncidence entre intention et conséquence aussi bien que la différence entre état final (anticipé) et état actuel.

L’outil socianalytique (« tâche d’imagination-cooptation ») requiert de disposer d’une équipe d’intervention impliquée in situ, d’un « collectif analyste » (Van Bockstaele & al., 2004). La relation perçue, intériorisée, ressentie ou imaginée entre ce « collectif analyste » et tel « système dynamique en analyse » traite des obstacles et des résistances que rencontrent les relations de pouvoir entre un « sujet observant » et un « sujet observé » (Vallée, 1995). Le pouvoir social exerce un pouvoir de référence sur l'action, il définit les objets de perception, il crée, ce faisant, une part des conditions d'une perception partagée. Mais, la perception sociale n'est partagée à l'intérieur que si la référence est posée et reconnue ; elle ne se maintient partagée que si elle est vue par l'extérieur comme perception commune. La tâche d’imagination-cooptation est un outil de mise à l’épreuve de cette référence cognitive commune, qui fonde la construction, la transformation et la reconnaissance de la perception sociale pour tout système.


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created: May 27,1998
updated: Septembaer 8, 2005