Publication 5094

Hejl P. M. (1994) Die Entwicklung der Organisation von Sozialsystemen und ihr Beitrag zum Systemverhalten. In: Rusch G. & Schmidt S. J. (eds.) Konstruktivismus und Sozialtheorie (DELFIN 1993). Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main: 109–132. Fulltext at
This chapter proposes a general model of social systems and – by doing so – shows that despite widespread prejudices sociological theory can and has to include epistemological questions. As a result of this insight, the traditional alternative between individuals (in the sense of psychology) and “the social” can be left behind. To achieve this goal the understanding of components and their relation to individuals are as central as the concept of organization. The argument of the paper is structured by a number of theses together with commentaries. They are intended to show the continuity of the issue (social systems both as constructs and as construing “actors”) at least since Durkheim. The chapter focuses on social systems in a constructivist theory of the social. To underline the specificity of social systems that function “as entities” because of similarities between their interacting participants (who therefore become “components”); it is proposed to characterize social systems as “synreferential.” The importance of the organization of social systems to explain the way systems function is finally made explicit with reference to the selectivity of the organization (the hierarchy versus heterarchy-problem, self-organization).

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