functional differentiation

Faulkner and social system change

The novels and short stories of William Faulkner often deal with family tensions or stress. So from a social systems perspective, we can look at the concepts of segmentation and functional differentiation. The family is a case of segmentary differentiation. Tribes, countries are also a kind segmentary differentiation. These kinds of social systems always have […]

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The Family and the Education System

In evolutionary terms, the family is a type of segmentary differentiation, which preceded functional differentiation but, obviously, still exists. In fact, functional differentiation relies on this already existing social form, as any new differentiation must use an earlier differentiation as a kind of foundation. Functional differentiation weakens traditional family bonds, as each family member becomes […]

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Missing the Point about Evolution

Even among fairly well educated people, there is a fundamental misunderstanding when it comes to the theory of evolution. A student of mine wrote that “humans are the most intelligent beings on the planet.” My response: I’m not sure this is true. Intelligence is relative. If a creature is able to successfully live and reproduce in […]

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The errors of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Given a very superficial understanding of Luhmann’s work, one might mistakenly associate it with the thought of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (or other “vitalist” theories). The tenuous connection is that Teilhard’s theory deals with evolution and complexity. Teilhard (1881-1955) was was a Jesuit priest and a paleontologist who was censored by the Catholic Church for […]

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Social status and goodness

Samuel Johnson often defended social class stratification. He also associated clothing with class and, by extension, respect. By dressing as someone of the upper class, a person logically gained respect, according to Johnson. Also, by associating with the upper classes, one gained respect. He said a man would gain more respect by spending time with […]

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Social structures are expectations

Social structures are typically thought of as “patterned social arrangements in society.” But in Luhmannian theory, the structures of social systems are not things like family relations, friendships, organizational chains of command, etc. They are expectations. Social structures are expectational structures. We can reduce it to one question: What comes next? What does suggest for the […]

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