Publication 3615

Davis C. (2012) A second-order cybernetic explanation fornetwork direct selling organisations as self-creating systems. Communitas 17: 113–140. Fulltext at
Network direct selling organisations (NDSOs), for example GNLD and Avroy Shlain, exist in more than 70 countries and have more than 88 million members, who produce a global turnover of billions of US dollars annually. The most recent statistical information reveals that the vast majority of members do not earn significant income. Criticism of these organisations revolves around the ethicality of consumption, the commercialisation of personal relationships, and the exploitation of unrealistic expectations. This article summarises the theoretical developments in the study that informed it, and is based, in essence, on secondorder cybernetics as a methodology as well as a development in theory. It aims to show how communication creates networks that sustain an industry of this kind despite the improbability of its existence. The article concludes that individuals are composite unities of self-creating systems, and they co-create social systems by self-creating and co-creating meaning. Meaning is described as the continuous virtualisation and actualisation of potentialities that in turn coordinate individual and social systems’ actions. A communication process flow model is created and applied to provide a theoretical explanation for the existence of NDSOs as selfcreating systems.


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