The Meaning of Culture

Thesis Eleven, Vol. 51, pp. 37-51, 1997

15 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2013

Date Written: July 15, 1997


The article inquires into the uneasiness of sociological systems theory about culture. Culture alternatively is called the solution to the problem of double contingency (Parsons) and removed from this solution (Luhmann). It is shown that meaning is the more basic term whose description reveals a form rule of social systems which is only patterned, yet not understood by culture. Culture is a memory and control device of society. It may be conceived of as providing the distinction of correct versus incorrect behavior. But who decides on the correctness or incorrectness of this distinction? Sociological thinking takes off where the cultural and the social are distinguished.

Keywords: culture, Luhmann, Parsons, systems theory

Suggested Citation

Baecker, Dirk, The Meaning of Culture (July 15, 1997). Thesis Eleven, Vol. 51, pp. 37-51, 1997, Available at SSRN:

Dirk Baecker (Contact Author)

Witten/Herdecke University ( email )



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