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

  • Hardback | 300 pages
  • 154 x 230 x 28mm | 580.6g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745645712
  • 9780745645711

Back cover copy

Niklas Luhmann (1927-1998) ranks as one of the most importantsociologists and social theorists of the 20th century. From 1968 to1992 he taught at the University of Bielefeld as a professor ofsociology. In recent years, Luhmann's systems theory has gainedresonance in a wide variety of disciplines.



Introduction to Systems Theory is Luhmann at the heightof his powers. He offers precise conceptual analyses and a wealthof examples to clarify the theoretical foundations of general andsociological systems theory. This book is a rich source of ideasthat can be applied to a variety of complex questions. It offers awide range of concepts and theorems that pertain equally topolitics and the economy, religion and science, art and education, the family and personal life. Moreover, Luhmann's ideas addressimportant contemporary issues in such diverse fields as cognitivescience, ecology, and the study of social movements.

Luhmann's Introduction to Systems Theory provides all thenecessary resources for students to work through the foundations ofsystems theory. Along the way, it also shows that it may well beamong the most important resources of serious theoretical work inthe social sciences today. This is the most accessible of Luhmann'sbooks and it will establish itself as the key text for anyone whowishes to understand systems theory and its uses today.
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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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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 formerly Professor of Sociology at University of Bielefeld.
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