Publication 385

Bastos M. T. (2011) Niklas Luhmann: A social systems perspective on the Internet. The Altitude Journal 9(1): 1–14. Fulltext at
The paper presents a social system’s perspective on the Internet, based mostly upon a radical constructivist approach. It summarizes the contributions of German sociologist Niklas Luhmann and outlines the theoretical boundaries between the theory of social systems and that of media studies. The paper highlights the self-referential nature of the Internet, which is depicted as both a system and an environment by means of a network of serialized selections and passing on of data. Therefore, whereas media theory pictures the Internet as a medium, this paper describes it as a system in regard to its self-referential dynamic, and as an environment in regard to the non-organized complexity of data within the medium. Even though the Internet is hereby depicted as an autopoietic system from a social system’s perspective, the paper does not resort to all the concepts of Luhmann’s theory.


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