Publication 2811

Mingers J. (1992) The problems of social autopoiesis. International Journal of General Systems 21(2): 229–236. Fulltext at
Zelený and Hufford apply the concept of autopoiesis to three different classes of systems – biological. chemical. and social. My response is concerned with the latter and in particular with Zelený and Hufford’s claims that social systems are autopoietic and that autopoietic systems arc inherently social. I argue that these claims are quite ill-founded. There are a number of general weaknesses with Zelený and Hufford’s paper, but, most importantly, the authors fail to see major problems in the ascription of autopoiesis to social systems. These problems are outlined, and the responses of other writers such as Maturana, Varela. and Luhmann are explored. Finally, the importance of and problems with Maturana’s and Varela’s work is assessed.

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