Society As an Observing System: A Perspective By Incongruity?

Monday, 11 July 2016: 15:15
Location: Hörsaal 15 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Saburo AKAHORI, Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, Japan
It is not limited to Niklas Luhmann’s case, systems thinking has been one of the most important sources of sociological insights. At the same time sociological systems theory sometimes tends to be blamed as unintelligible. However, generally speaking, abstract theory makes things clear. If things become more complex because of sociological systems theory, it must be dysfunctioning. From such a viewpoint, we focus on the notion of society as an observer (or, observing system) in Luhmann’s theory, especially on the connection between systems theory and sociological theory. The main points are as follows: (1) To discuss the notion of meaning-constructing system in contrast with living system. (2) To distinguish between social systems (systems of “the social”) and a societal system (system of “society”). (3) To distinguish between sociology as second-order observer and the functionally-differentiated modern society as second order observer. After reviewing these points, we conclude that, systems theory would be a very useful tool to see things sociologically if it is properly connected to sociological theory.