Structural Coupling

The concept of autopoiesis in itself cannot explain a system’s persistence over time. Autopoiesis happens in a moment; it is an … More

Political Legitimacy

The political scientist Chris Thornhill (2008), drawing on Luhmann’s work, argues that modern states gained legitimacy by limiting their own … More

Autopoietic Political Parties

From a systems theoretical view, it’s interesting what has happened to the Republican Party recently. Political parties are autopoietic systems; … More

Draw a Distinction!

Luhmannian systems theory, as distinguished from the systems theory of the 1950s-60s, begins with the injunction to “draw a distinction.” … More

Social Order?

If we agree that societies are not grounded in basic norms or shared values–or that there is no meta-level that … More

Norms and Shared Values

As for the second epistemological obstacle to an adequate theory of society, we cannot consistently argue that societies are constituted, … More

A Theory of Society

Luhmann speaks of four “epistemological obstacles . . . to be found in the prevailing understanding of society in the … More