Sociocybernetics: Complexity, Autopoiesis, and Observation of Social Systems

Sociocybernetics: Complexity, Autopoiesis, and Observation of Social Systems

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ABC-CLIO, Incorporated


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Sociocybernetics: Complexity, Autopoiesis, and Observation of Social Systems

In an effort to shed light on recent developments in sociocybernetic research, this volume represents recent and advanced thinking in this rapidly developing field. The authors address the core problems in social science caused by increasing societal complexity and analyze the inadequacy of many of the methodological tools still used for grappling with nonlinear, self-organizing systems. Together, the 18 contributors propose elements of a new methodology based on sociocybernetic principles aimed at describing and explaining the growth of societal complexity, the contribution of autopoiesis of societal subunits to more societal complexity, and the new simulation-based methodology needed to observe complex social systems. This unique volume contributes to a greater understanding of sociocybernetics and its uses as a method for researching modern problems of increasing complexity and interdependence.

The first part of the book deals with increasing societal complexity and contains chapters on its overall development, the complexity of brain-environment interaction loops, organizational change, the development of human values, and the increasing interpenetration of societal subsystems. The second part concentrates on a current issue in sociocybernetics: autopoiesis, or self-production. The chapters included in Part II concentrate on embodied cognition, on the applicability of autopoiesis to business firms, on its roots in Aristotelian philosophy, and on the possibility of societal control and steering in democratic societies. Part III, more focused on methodology, discusses the difficulties inherent in observing complex social systems. The chapters deal with the problems of cross-cultural comparative research, simulation of the evolution of social systems, longitudinal simulation of education systems, and the methodological difficulties associated with analyzing the unexpected complexities of mutually interacting nonlinear systems.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780313314186
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/30/2001
Series: Controversies in Science Series
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

FELIX GEYER headed the methodology section of SISWO,(Institute for the Social Sciences), and has been retired since 1998. He is an honorary fellow of the World Organization of General Systems and Cybernetics and serves on the editorial board of the journal Kybernetes. Geyer was also executive secretary and member of the Executive Committee of the International Sociological Association, He has published extensively in the fields of alienation theory and General Systems Theory/sociocybernetics.

JOHANNES VAN DER ZOUWEN is a professor in the Social Research Methodology department at Free University, The Netherlands. He is an honorary fellow of the World Organization of General Systems and Cybernetics and a member of the editorial board of its official journal Kybernetes. He has edited or coedited five books and published numerous articles and book chapters.

Table of Contents


Introduction to the Main Themes in Sociocybernetics Felix Geyer and Johannes van der Zouwen

Growing Social and Complexity

Sociophysics and Sociocybernetics:An Essay on the Natural Roots and Limits of Political Control Paris Arnopoulos

Mind and Brain: A Dynamic System Model Walter Buckley

Management by Complexity:Redundancy and Variety in Organizations Heinrich Ahlemeyer

The Emergence of Societal Information Robert Artigiani

On the Interpretation of Social Subsystems: A Contemporary Reconstruction of Parsons and Luhman Michael Rempel


Information, Meaning and Communication: An Autopoietic Approach John Mingers

Are Firms Autopoietic Systems? Lucio Biggiero

The Autopoiesis of Social Systems: An Aristotelian Interpretation Colin Dougall

Autopoiesis and Governmance: Societal Steering and Control in Democratic Societies John H. Little

Observation of Social Systems

Implications of Autopoiesis and Cognitive Mapping for a Methodology of Comparative Cross-Cultural Research Bernd Hornung and Charo Hornung

Social Differentiation as the Unfolding of Dimensions of Social Systems Jürgen Klüver and Jörn Schmidt

The Dynamics of Educational Expansion: A Simulation Model Cor van Dijkum, Niek Lam, and Harry B.G. Ganzeboom

Towards a Methodology for the Empirical Testing of Complex Social Cybernetic Models Johannes van der Zouwen and Cor van Dijkum

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