Publication 4642

Vanderstraeten R. (2002) Parsons, Luhmann and the theorem of double contingency. Journal of Classical Sociology 2: 77–92. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/4642
This article analyzes the ego/alter ego constellation of social interaction. Every social interaction constitutes a situation with double contingency, which is recognized as such by both sides: both know that both know that one could also act differently. The circularity of the relationship brings about indeterminacy; self-commitment would presuppose that others commit themselves and vice versa. How is this infinity problem solved? How can we account for the possibility of social interaction, and social order? Both Talcott Parsons and Niklas Luhmann have devoted considerable attention to the theorem of double contingency. Here, I analyze their theoretical formulations on this topic.

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