Introduction to Systems Theory

Introduction to Systems Theory

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Niklas Luhmann ranks as one of the most important sociologists and social theorists of the twentieth century. Through his many books he developed a highly original form of systems theory that has been hugely influential in a wide variety of disciplines. In Introduction to Systems Theory, Luhmann explains the key ideas of general and sociological systems theory and supplies a wealth of examples to illustrate his approach. The book offers a wide range of concepts and theorems that can be applied to politics and the economy, religion and science, art and education, organization and the family. Moreover, Luhmann s ideas address important contemporary issues in such diverse fields as cognitive science, ecology, and the study of social movements. This book provides all the necessary resources for readers to work through the foundations of systems theory no other work by Luhmann is as clear and accessible as this. There is also much here that will be of great interest to more advanced scholars and practitioners in sociology and the social sciences.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 300 pages
  • 150 x 228 x 26mm | 458.13g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • figures
  • 0745645720
  • 9780745645728
  • 198,626

Review quote

'These lectures, published here in English for the first time, show Luhmann at the height of his powers. They offer a unique insight into the engine room of arguably the world's most famous systems theorist. It is indeed a brilliant mind that is at work here; very few other social scientists would be able to perform at such a level. Particularly for students and readers who are not familiar with Luhmann's style of thought, this is an ideal introduction to systems theory by the man himself.' Andreas Hess, University College Dublin 'Niklas Luhmann is the closest the social sciences have come, in a long time, to an actual thinker. This book is an indispensable introduction to Luhmann s unique version of systems theory and required reading to all concerned about theoretical sociology. It offers a rare glimpse into the experimental workings of an extraordinary sociological mind at work.' Stephan Fuchs, University of Virginia

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About Niklas Luhmann

Niklas Luhmann was professor of sociology at the University of Bielefeld.

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Table of contents

Translators Note and Acknowledgements System-Autopoiesis-Form: An Introduction to Luhmann's 'Introduction to Systems Theory' Editor's Preface to the German Edition I. Sociology and Systems Theory 1. The Functionalism of System Maintenance 2. Parsons II. General Systems Theory 1. The Theory of Open Systems 2. System as Difference (Formal Analysis) 3. Operational Closure 4. Self-Organization, Autopoiesis 5. Structural Coupling 6. Observing 7. Re-entry 8. Complexity 9. The Idea of Rationality III. Time IV. Meaning V. Psychic and Social Systems 1. Problems of "Action Theory" 2. Two Modes of Operation of Autopoiesis VI. Communication as a Self-Observing Operation VII. Double Contingency, Structure, Conflict Suggested Further Readings

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Customer reviews

For anyone interested in Luhmann and his systems theory this is essential reading. It is much easier to read and understand than his very long system theory book. The translation is good, the concepts are presented more clearly - perhaps because they are individual lectures - and in some areas, he elaborates on concepts from earlier work. This book is very much the case that less is more
by Elizabeth Manson