'Structure'/'Action' Contingencies and the Model of Parallel Distributed Processing
Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 23(1) (1993) 47-77
39 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2013
Date Written: August 27, 1992
By considering actors in a network as parallel distributed processors, a cybernetic and dynamic model for "structure"/"action" contingency relations can be developed. This model will be discussed in relation to four relevant sociological theories: the formal network analysis of action, Giddens' structuration theory, the micro-situational and phenomenological approaches, and Parsonian structural-functionalism. Parallel distributed processing has in common with Luhmann's sociology that the phenomena are analyzed as the result not only of a differentiated system, but also of different systems with specific operations. Although cybernetic control remains, the new model allows, among other things, for degrees of self-organization ("freedom") in each system. Additionally, the model enables us to use existing algorithms of artificial intelligence and the mathematical theory of communication for the analysis of empirical problems.
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