Foreword: Trends in Functional Differentiation

Cybernetics and Human Knowing, Vol. 22 (2015), no. 4, pp. 5-9.

9 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2016 Last revised: 13 Jan 2016

See all articles by Steffen Roth

Steffen Roth

La Rochelle Business School; University of Turku

Date Written: November 8, 2015


Modern social sciences in imply rather than apply functional differentiation and remain preoccupied with the cross-tabling of variables associated with earlier forms of differentiation. The key variables of modernity hence remain blind spots or theoretically motivated constants of most sociology. The problem with this conceptual gap is that social theories and sciences have always featured a trend toward the observation of trends in functional differentiation such as the secularization, politicization, mediatization, aestheticization, juridification, or, most popularly, the economization of society. These trend statements, however, inevitably call for a systematic reflection not only on the individual trends, but also on the full concept of functional differentiation. Yet, in predominantly zooming in on political and economical issues, most social theories and sciences perform rather than study an assumed political and economic bias of modern societies, thus projecting it to the future. The challenge is hence to create a broader vision of sometimes changing trends in functional differentiation, and the contributions to this special issue of Cybernetics and Human Knowing may be read as pioneers in this venture.

Keywords: Functional differentiation, social differentiation, differentiation theory, sociology, trend, Luhmann, interfunctional social research, datafication, alternativelessness, noise

JEL Classification: A14

Suggested Citation

Roth, Steffen, Foreword: Trends in Functional Differentiation (November 8, 2015). Cybernetics and Human Knowing, Vol. 22 (2015), no. 4, pp. 5-9.. Available at SSRN:

Steffen Roth (Contact Author)

La Rochelle Business School ( email )

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University of Turku ( email )

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Turku, 20014

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