What characterizes the social organization of human societies?
In the last decades of the 20th Century Niclas Luhmann (1927-98) emerged as a leading theorist in the attempt to apply autopoietic theory to social systems.

Social Organization
Christopher Kinblad Martes 8 de Agosto del año 2006 / 17:13
ORGANIZACION SOCIAL (en inglés)

Nuestro alumno y colaborador Christopher Kinblad (Suecia) quien está desarrollando una interesante investigación de las comunidades myskito en Nicaragua nos ha enviado el siguiente artículo para compartirlo con todos Ustedes.

I. Introduction

In the last decades of the 20th Century Niclas Luhmann (1927-98) emerged as a leading theorist in the attempt to apply autopoietic theory to social systems. He developed a social theory at a high level of abstraction, which views social systems as distinct from their environment. The social system is analysed as an autopoietic organisation, which is based on closed networks of communication  communications producing communications -, operating on the basis of binary codes. (Luhmann 1995) The theory is regarded as one of the most sophisticated theories in modern sociology. Luhmann applied his theory to the study of modern societies, and analysed a variety of subjects, including politics, law, economy, religion, mass media and ecology, and produced novel insights. The theory has been particularly useful in the study of modern organisations. (Arnoldi 2001).

However, I believe that Luhmann´s theory has obscured important insights, which could be derived from autopoietic theory; in particular, his use of autopoietic theory tends to exclude the role of human beings, and the cultural aspect of their interactions, since human beings are viewed to be part of the environment of the social system. This is problematic if we want to understand social organisation.

Since the early 1980s Humberto Maturana (1980, 1985, 1997) has developed a conceptual framework for the study of social systems, which takes into account the central role that human beings  and culture - play in the constitution of society. In general terms social organisation is viewed as a network of interaction, which is constituted by the operation of living beings as autopoietic unities, and works as a medium where they realize their autopoiesis. This approach makes it possible to distinguish fundamental features of the social organisation of human societies. If the social organisation of human societies is constituted by human beings as autopoietic components, and human beings realize their autopoiesis in a particular way as a class of living beings, then it should be possible to suggest some features that are fundamental for the social organisation of human societies. This leads to the following question:

What characterizes the social organization of human societies?


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  • Christopher Kinblad
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