Publication 5628

Baxter H. (2013) Niklas Luhmann’s theory of autopoietic legal systems. Annual Review of Law and Social Science 9: 167–184. Fulltext at
Between 1984 and his death in 1998, German sociologist Niklas Luhmann developed a comprehensive theory of what he called autopoietic or self-referential systems. He worked out this approach both at the level of a social system as a whole and at the level of various social subsystems, such as state, economy, science, religion, education, art, family, and – the concern of the present article – law. My particular topics in this critical introduction to Luhmann’s theory are (a) its relation to more standard legal theory, (b) foundational or self-referential problems in law, and (c) the problem of law’s relation to other social spheres, especially politics and the economy.

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