Postmodernism collapses the dualist metaphysics underlying the
Great Divide between Society and Nature in the wrong way, restoring
anthropocentrism and Aristotelianism. The constructivist theory
of observers is in a better position to render the Two Culture separation
obsolete. Personhood and thingness can then be explained as the
outcomes of attributions that covary with the social structures
of observing. Thinghood and Personhood are achievements from attributions
by observers whose own location and relations color the variable
modes of their observing. As outcomes not causes of
social constructions, things and persons are not essentially different
natural kinds, but linked by a continuum of transitions and phases.
Modernity is special in that more and more observers perform an
increasing number of possible combinations and re-combinations between
things and persons, or Nature and Society.
The Included Excluded: The Problem of Functional Total Inclusion
in the context of the German penal law system
Accompanying the process of functional differentiation, the supercode
of inclusion/exclusion has come to regulate individual chances of
accessing different functional systems. This paper proceeds from
this guiding distinction and applies it to an analysis of the German
penal law system as a program of the legal system. It is discussed
how prisoners, despite being sentenced to imprisonment, enjoy the
right to participate in functionally specified communications. This
perspective of observation sheds light on the argument that
contrary to a topographically motivated description there
still remains a guarantee for participation in societal processes
during physical incarceration. Highlighting the situation of the
prisoner, this guarantee will be described as partial total inclusion
and analysed with respect to relevant sections of the penal law
system. A tentative sketch of possible/desirable developments elaborates
on the distinction between personal inclusion and somatic exclusion
in order to outline the reform project Falcon in such a manner that
it allows to modify physical and spatial exclusion as well as to
enable somatic re-inclusion.
"Differences which Make no Differences". Problems of Inclusion
in the Educational System and Their Reflection by the Pedagogics
The paper addresses problems of inclusion in the educational system
and their reflection by the pedagogics of integration. The pedagogics
of integration and its main topic and essential programme of a "primary
school for all children" criticise the common procedure of
sending those children to special schools who are diagnosed as pupils
with a special need of furtherance. Integrative pedagogies critically
focuses on the traditional organisational differentiation between
normal and special schols as well as on the distinction between
normal pupils and pupils with a special need of support. In this
sense the leading idea of the pedagogics of integration can be seen
in cancelling the educational process of segregation which normal
separates from handicapped pupils. The thesis of this paper is that
the semantics of integration observed with systems-theoretically
informed instruments addresses with a structural paradox
which refers to a fundamental problem of educational communication
in the social dimension of social meaning. The meaning of integration
produces a semantics which treats one typical paradox of educational
communication the inequality of equals. Using the value of
normality, the semantics of integration tries to "invisibilize"
Markus Göbel/Johannes F.K. Schmidt:
Inclusion/Exclusion: The Carreer, Problems and Differentiations
of a Systems Theoretical Distinction
The paper discusses the distinction of inclusion/exclusion in
Luhmanns theory. The stated conceptual ambivalences in Luhmanns
theory are the results of using the term of inclusion both in the
context of the theory of society and in the theory of meaning without
making clear how both concepts are connected. As a result, the distinction
fa ils to be a useful analytical tool in the theory of society.
In a first step, the paper examines the multiple usages of the term
inclusion in the systems theoretical literature (I). In a second
step, the authors reconstruct the carreer of the concept of inclusion
in Luhmanns theory indicating the central problems and potentials
of the concept (II). Against this background and in referring to
the early concept of inclusion the paper aims the distinction of
complementary roles concerning a specific function (Leistungs- und
Publikumsrolle) and develops an analytical tool to grasp deficient
forms of inclusion (III). Finally, the authors outline an theoretically
and empirically differentiated concept by making a distinction between
normal inclusion, limited inclusion and hyper inclusion (IV).
Historical Remarks on the Diversity of the Theory of Social Differeniation
The paper responds to some recent publications in the field of
social differentiation; the response is a historical one. On the
one hand, its intention is to demonstrate that the idea of social
differentiation was born in the middle of the 19th century and that
its birth precedes the classical sociology of Emile Durkheim, Georg
Simmel and Max Weber. It is shown, on the other hand, that there
was a considerable diversity in the preclassic and classic discourse
on social differentiation. The article stresses three lines of this
discourse. The first one is near to biology; it is guided by the
organic analogy and represented by Herbert Spencer. The second one
traces back to Adam Smith, but had its master in Georg Simmel. In
this context social differentiation is treated in correlation
with other macroprocesses: social growth, (personal) individualization,
and the development of the commercial society (or in
terms of Georg Simmel: Geldwirtschaft). The third line
to be stressed is a specifically German one; the central idea here
is that of the differention and growing autonomy of cultural
spheres (economy, law, religion etc.). It is drawn from Wilhelm
Dilthey and its effects can be found in Max Weber and
in Niklas Luhmanns theory of functional differentiation, too.
Luhmanns Refutation of Idealism? Constructivism as a Two-Front
This paper uses the occasion of a short passage on causality in
Luhmanns "Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft" to
define constructivism not as a firm philosophical position, but
as a pragmatic strategy that is guided by "political"
interests in its oscillations between realism and idealism. Its
commitments are not to reality, but to the description of a functionally
differentiated social order.
Horst Firsching: Is the Concept
of Society Theoretically Useful? About the Problems
of the Concept of Society in Niklas Luhmanns Die Gesellschaft
Starting from Friedrich H. Tenbrucks critical questions
concerning the sociological mainstream concept of society
with regard to its supposed autonomy, oneness, unity and identity
(Tenbruck demands the renunciation of the concept of society
wholeheartedly), this essay deals with the concept of society
in Niklas Luhmanns systems theory and communication theory
with special reference to his new book Die Gesellschaft
der Gesellschaft (The Society of Society). Luhmann defines
society as that social system which has no social environment
at all in terms of communication theory: there is no communication
outside of society, and therefore there cannot be communication
between societies. The consequence is the identity of
the boundaries of society and communication.
This essay seeks to demonstrate that Luhmann does not (and even
cannot) follow his own definition consequently, and that this inconsequence
leads to aporetical propositions within the context of Luhmanns
arguments undermining his own concept of society. A
fundamental diagnosis like this raises the question whether the
modern sociological systems theory has to abandon the concept of
society. In this case, systems theory would be a social
theory connected with communication theory that has to consider
the varieties of social systems and their structural
and communicative connections without referring
to the concept of society and its aporetical implication
of an absolute boundary of communication; that implies (against
Luhmanns intention): this theory excludes a theory of
Code Performances Function: The Constitution of Societal
Despite the paradigm change to an autopoietic perspective on social
systems Luhmann still characterizes societal sub-systems by their
societal function, and modern society by its functional differentiation.
In contrast, it is argued that the differentiation and dynamic of
a societal sub-system is determined by the interplay between its
binary code, on the one hand, and its multiple relations of performance
to other sub-systems.
Validity Claims and Second Order Observation. How Close Are Theory
of Discourse and Systems Theory?
As part of a research project on the Habermas-Luhmann-debate this
paper assumes that there is a fundamental but not unbridgeable difference
between discourse theory and systems theory. Particularly Luhmanns
recent book "Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft" enables
us to show some analogies in and parallels of the two theories.
The paper tries to make such analogies visible by contrasting the
Habermasian necessity to anticipate "Geltungsansprüche"
with the implications of the Luhmannian "second order observation".
The contention of the author is not to reconcile the two conceptions
but to help to understand its principles better and to generate
new perspectives for social theory.
Theory of Society and Empirical Research. The Preliminary Notes
in Luhmanns Theory of Society
The paper discusses the methodological preliminary notes in Luhmanns
"Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft". It shows that Luhmann
draws much too negative a picture of what is called empirical research
in the social sciences. The first part of this paper shows that
Luhmanns criticism of empirical research strongly resembles
Adornos criticique of empirical sociology in the sixties,
if one reads it in terms of an empirical researcher. The authors
contribution tries to emphasize the relevance of empirical research
for a systems theoretical perspective on a theory of society.
Meaning as Medium and Form. A Contribution to the Understanding
of the Concepts of Luhmanns Theoretical Design
The concept of society as society developed by systems theory
helps us to specify the terms of "medium" and "form".
On the one hand, the paper argues for a reformulation of Spencer
Browns concept of form. Instead of thinking a boundary as
the boundary between the inside and outside of a form, it is suggested
that every crossing of a boundary creates an inside. The medium
can only be observed by the systems internal operations, i.e.
as a form. On the other hand, the medium is conceptualized as ultimate
foundation of a self-referential system. No operation of a system
is able to access this instance. At this position we can locate
"concrete human beings", excluded from society as a social
system, as a medium.
Space and Technology. Problem of Media Theory in Luhmanns
"Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft"
There is no room for space in Luhmanns sociological theory.
Wherever distance or space should matter for example in the
case of distinguishing interaction of persons present from communication
of seperated persons via media, or in the case of the so called
"media of distribution" -, Luhmann reformulates the problem
in terms of time and velocity. But media not only accelerate or
store communication in time, each medium is covers certain distances
in a particular way, depending upon its materiality. But time, and
not space, occupies a privileged place as one of the three dimensions
of meaning in the theoretical framework. In Luhmanns theory
the reason for genuine media theoretical blind spots seems to be
that any possible effect of space on the process of communication
is converted in matters of time. The theory lacks a sufficient reflection
on media technologies. Technological differences in covering distances
cannot be grasped, if any problem of media theory is only conceived
of in terms of temporality.