Historical narrative and communication

In Bateson and Luhmann’s terms, communication is an emergent reality, a sui generis state of affairs that fluctuates between purposes of structuration and trivialization and autopoietic tendencies. The model of multiple selections-operations (information, act of communication, act of understanding, act of endorsement-rejection) may help us in the task of understanding the fact that the goal of communication is not transmission but the absorption of uncertainty, via production of redundancy and reduction of excess, in order to produce more communication. The system of communication has its own goal: reproduction. The absorption helps and facilitates this.

Notes on the concept of disability

Disability is, of course, one side of the dis/ability distinction, and this distinction is made by some system. It’s not a thing that exists outside of communication. That is to say, it’s a social construction. The bodies or brains that are to be disabled exist in the environment of society, the environment of communication. We must observe the observer.


By medicalization we mean defining behavior as a medical problem or illness and mandating or licensing the medical profession to provide some type of treatment for it. Examples include alcoholism, drug addiction and treating violence as a genetic or brain disorder. This redefinition is not a new function of the medical institution: psychiatry and public health have always been concerned with social behavior and have traditionally functioned as agents of social control.

Embodiment and materiality

In reading the scholarly literature on social systems theory, I sometimes come across the claim that for Luhmann psychic systems means the mind–and that this mind is incorporeal. The person this claims that Luhmann fell back on the old body/mind duality, according to which there is a mind distinct from the physical body. But these claims are simply false. The psychic system is conscious awareness; it is the body’s awareness of itself. The psychic system consists of whatever the body can perceive via its five senses and its “sixth sense, proprioception (perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body). Thus all sentient beings, not just humans, have a psychic system. A better term that psychic system might be sensorium–the sensory apparatus or faculties considered as a whole.

Including the excluded

In this panoptic society of which incarceration is the omnipresent armature, the delinquent is not outside the law; he is, from the very outset, in the law, at the very heart of the law, or at least in the midst of those mechanisms that transfer the individual imperceptibly from discipline to the law, from deviation to offence. Although it is true that prison punishes delinquency, delinquency is for the most part produced in and by an incarceration which, ultimately, prison perpetuates in its turn.

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