Luhmann, Habermas, and the Theory of Communication
Systems Research and Behavioral Science 17(3) (2000) 273-288
22 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2013
Date Written: February 27, 1999
In his critique of Luhmann’s sociology, Habermas (1987) argued that individuation and socialization are possible on the basis of linguistic structures. This critique touches the blind spot of sociological systems theory as a meta-biology. Whereas the paradigm shift from action theory towards communication theory was fully reflected in Luhmann’s sociology, the difference between the self-organization of social systems and the autopoiesis of biological systems remained underspecified. Social systems allow for communication about observations from within the system and/or from another perspective. Observers are able to participate both in the variation and in the selection; Giddens (1976) introduced in this context the metaphor of a ‘double hermeneutics.’ Through language the distinction between uncertainty and meaningful information is communicated reflexively, and the consequent codification may be changed without becoming confused. The implied communicative competences can be specified from the perspective of communication theory.
Keywords: self-organization, communication, sociology, Habermas, Luhmann, reflexivity
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