Publication 2730

Mingers J. (1989) An Introduction to Autopoiesis – Implications and Applications. Systems Practice 2(2): 159–180. Fulltext at
Maturana and Varela have developed a theory to explain the particular character of living systems. Such systems, they claim, have an “autopoietic, ” or self-produc¬ing, organization. This term is now used widely, although often without a proper understanding of the detail of the theory. Moreover, the concept has been applied to other systems, such as societies and institutions, in a rather naïve manner. It is a very important theory, with far-reaching consequences both for science and for social intervention, but it must be correctly appreciated and applied. The aim of this paper is to aid that process by, first, elucidating the theoretical ideas and, second, critically evaluating its implications and applications.

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