Publication 6370

Lee D. (2000) The society of society: The grand finale of Niklas Luhmann. Sociological Theory 18(2): 320–330. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/6370
This paper introduces Niklas Luhmann’s final work, Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft (The Society of Society). According to Luhmann, sociologists have failed to produce even a partially adequate theory of society. Epistemological obstacles and humanist concerns for rationality and justice have prevented true progress in the discipline. With his “radically antihumanist, radically antiregional, and radically constructivistic” social system theory, Luhmann intends to bring about a sociological enlightenment. Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft focuses on communication as the only genuinely social phenomenon. Social systems differentiate and evolve as they communicate in three separate dimensions: the social, temporal, and functional. The path of evolution results from a history of variation, selection, and restabilization within these dimensions. Communication, bit by bit, produces social structures that, recursively, produce future structures. Society is communication. Sociology, as the science of society, is communication about how different societal systems operate, communicate, evolve, and maintain their boundaries.

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