Ten Systems: Toward a Canon of Function Systems

Cybernetics and Human Knowing, Vol. 22 (2015), No. 4, pp.11-31

21 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2014 Last revised: 5 Apr 2016

See all articles by Steffen Roth

Steffen Roth

La Rochelle Business School; University of Witten-Herdecke; Kazimieras Simonavičius University

Anton Schütz

University of London - Birkbeck College

Date Written: October 31, 2015


There is no description of modernity without functional differentiation. The distinction of function systems such as economy, science, art, or religion, is a key to modernity. Modern science, however, applies and implies rather than studies functional differentiation without providing exact definitions of function systems or investigating how many of these systems actually exist. The present article addresses these two issues focusing on the second. Test criteria for the distinction between function systems and systems other than function systems are developed and used to decide whether family, love, morality, culture, social work, and some more, actually are function systems. Subsequently, the article presents a list of 10 function systems and their corresponding media, codes, and programs. A final section suggests that a disciplined approach to functional differentiation opens up a horizon for interfunctional comparative social research.

Keywords: Functional differentiation; function system; social systems; form theory; Niklas Luhmann; modernity; interfunctional comparative social research

Suggested Citation

Roth, Steffen and Schütz, Anton, Ten Systems: Toward a Canon of Function Systems (October 31, 2015). Cybernetics and Human Knowing, Vol. 22 (2015), No. 4, pp.11-31, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2508950 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2508950

Steffen Roth (Contact Author)

La Rochelle Business School ( email )

102 rue de Coureilles
Les Minimes
La Rochelle, 17024

University of Witten-Herdecke ( email )

Alfred-Herrhausen-Straße 50
Witten, 58448

Kazimieras Simonavičius University ( email )

Dariaus ir Girėno g. 21
Vilnius, 02189

Anton Schütz

University of London - Birkbeck College ( email )

Malet Street
London, London WC1
United Kingdom

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