The concept of autopoiesis in itself cannot explain a system’s persistence over time. Autopoiesis consists of events that pass away as soon as they occur. In
The political scientist Chris Thornhill (2008), drawing on Luhmann’s work, argues that modern states gained legitimacy by limiting their own reach to what they could
From a systems theoretical view, it’s interesting what has happened to the Republican Party recently. Political parties are autopoietic systems; like all autopoietic systems, they
Luhmannian systems theory, as distinguished from the systems theory of the 1950s-60s, begins with the injunction to “draw a distinction.” Luhmann, following George Spencer-Brown, takes
If we agree that societies are not grounded in shared norms or values yet still feel the need for a theory of society, we need
Norms are a product of differentiation. Social systems differentiate expected behavior (norms) from actual behavior. That is to say, norms serve as prediction schemata. The norm is the expected. Behavioral norms are expected even if they are not anticipated. For instance, even if we know a person well and we anticipate that he will lie to us, we nonetheless expect him to tell the truth; otherwise we could not engage in communication with that person at all.