Theory of Society

ISBN-10: 0804739501

ISBN-13: 9780804739504

Edition: 2012

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Description: This first volume of Niklas Luhmann's two-part final work was initially published in German in 1997. The culmination of his thirty-year theoretical project to reconceptualize sociology, it offers a comprehensive description of modern society on a scale not attempted since Talcott Parsons. Beginning with an account of the fluidity of meaning and the accordingly high improbability of successful communication, Luhmann analyzes a range of communicative media, including language, writing, the printing press, and electronic media as well as "success media," such as money, power, truth, and love, all of which structure this fluidity and make communication possible. An investigation into the ways in which social systems produce and reproduce themselves, the book asks what gives rise to functionally differentiated social systems, how they evolve, and how social movements, organizations, and patterns of interaction emerge. The advent of the computer and its networks, which trigger potentially far-reaching processes of restructuring, receive particular attention. A concluding chapter on the semantics of modern society's self-description bids farewell to the outdated theoretical approaches of "old Europe," that is, to ontological, holistic, ethical, and critical interpretations of society, and argues that concepts such as "the nation," "the subject," and "postmodernity" are vastly overrated. In their stead, "society"—long considered a suspicious term by sociologists, one open to all kinds of reification—is defined in purely operational terms. It is the always uncertain answer to the question of what comes next in all areas of communication.

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Book details

List price: $27.95
Copyright year: 2012
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication date: 10/10/2012
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 486
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.75" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.430
Language: English

Preface
Translators Note
Society as a Social System
The Sociological Theory of Society
Preliminary Remarks on Methodology
Meaning
The Distinction Between System and Environment
Society as a Comprehensive Social System
Operational Closure and Structural Couplings
Cognition
Ecological Problems
Complexity
World Society
Demands on Rationality
Communication Media
Medium and Form
Dissemination Media and Success Media
Language
Morality and the Secrets of Religion
Writing
Printing
Electronic Media
Dissemination Media: Summary
Symbolically Generalized Communication Media, 1: Function
Symbolically Generalized Communication Media, 2: Differentiation
Symbolically Generalized Communication Media, 3: Structures
Symbolically Generalized Communication Media, 4: Self-Validation
Moral Communication
Effects on the Evolution of the Societal System
Evolution
Creation, Planning, Evolution
Systems-Theoretical Basis
The Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution
The Variation of Elements
Selection Through Media
The Restabilization of Systems
Differentiation of Variation, Selection, and Restabilization
Evolutionary Advances
Technology
The Evolution of Ideas
The Evolution of Subsystems
Evolution and History
Memory
Notes
Index
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