Niklas Luhmann's Magnificent Contribution to the Sociological Tradition: The Emergence of the Knowledge-Based Economy as an Order of Expectations

Forthcoming in: Nachtflug der Eule: 150 Stimmen zum Werk von Niklas Luhmann. Gedenkbuch zum 15. Todestag von Niklas Luhmann (8. Dezember 1927 Lüneburg - 6. November 1998 Oerlinghausen), Magdalena Tzaneva (Ed.). Berlin: LiDi Europe Verlagshaus, 2013; Vol. 2, pp. 470-484.

11 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2013 Last revised: 18 Nov 2014

See all articles by Loet Leydesdorff

Loet Leydesdorff

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)

Date Written: November 17, 2013

Abstract

One can discard Luhmann’s contributions as flawed (e.g., Padgett & Powell, 2012, pp. 55-58) or discuss the limitations of the theory from a sociological perspective (e.g., Giddens, 1984, at p. xxxvi f.; Leydesdorff, 2010), but in my opinion, important steps were made by Luhmann in sociological theorizing when compared with his predecessors such as Parsons and Habermas, but also when compared with more empirically oriented contemporaries such as Merton and Giddens. These new developments were made possible by an interdisciplinary orientation in which Luhmann absorbed into his sociology, on the one side, Maturana’s theory of autopoiesis (self-organization) and, on the other, Husserl’s philosophy, and then provided a sociological reconstruction that can eventually be operationalized (Leydesdorff, 1996 and 2012). In my opinion, these new steps in terms of sociological theorizing were made mainly in the 1970s and 1980s, whereas the emphasis shifted to a synthesis of this oeuvre in the 1990s (e.g., Luhmann, 1997) and to the more philosophical ambition of developing a general theory of observation (Baecker et al., [1992] 1999; Gumbrecht, 2003 and 2006; Leydesdorff, 2006).

Suggested Citation

Leydesdorff, Loet, Niklas Luhmann's Magnificent Contribution to the Sociological Tradition: The Emergence of the Knowledge-Based Economy as an Order of Expectations (November 17, 2013). Forthcoming in: Nachtflug der Eule: 150 Stimmen zum Werk von Niklas Luhmann. Gedenkbuch zum 15. Todestag von Niklas Luhmann (8. Dezember 1927 Lüneburg - 6. November 1998 Oerlinghausen), Magdalena Tzaneva (Ed.). Berlin: LiDi Europe Verlagshaus, 2013; Vol. 2, pp. 470-484.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2355880 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2355880

Loet Leydesdorff (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) ( email )

PO Box 15793
Amsterdam, 1001 NG
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.leydesdorff.net

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