The Self-Organisation of Society

INTAS "Human Strategies in Complexity" Research Paper

25 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2003

See all articles by Christian Fuchs

Christian Fuchs

University of Salzburg

Annette Schlemm

Universität Gesamthochschule Kassel

Date Written: November 30, 2002


The aim of this paper is to outline some aspects of the self-organisation of society based on a dialectical methodology. On a very general level, society can be characterised as a re-creative system: By mutual productive relationships of social structures and actors, society can based on human activity and creativity reproduce itself. Social structures are medium and outcome of social actions. This is a synchronous description. Describing society in a diachronic way, one can say that new order emerges in phases of instability and crisis. Society can also be described as the unity of different qualitative moments such as production, consumption, distribution, politics and culture because human activity results in more permanent qualitative moments. A dialectical analysis of society means to consider societal existence as a development process. Dialectics means concretisation and speculation. Hence by ascending from the abstract to the concrete (from the logic of essence to the logic of notion), we discuss the economic self-organisation cycle of capitalism. This process of capital accumulation results in the estrangement and exploitation of the human being by the human being. Capitalist society is not a naturally given pattern, but a historical system. The human being has the ability to consciously behave towards the world, hence it's possible to change the societal conditions in such a way that true, well-rounded individuality can fully unfold.

Keywords: self-organisation, self-organization, society, social system, systems theory, Hegel, Marx, Marxism, capitalism, dialectics

JEL Classification: P1, A14, B14, B51

Suggested Citation

Fuchs, Christian and Schlemm, Annette, The Self-Organisation of Society (November 30, 2002). INTAS "Human Strategies in Complexity" Research Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Christian Fuchs (Contact Author)

University of Salzburg ( email )

A-5020 Salzburg

Annette Schlemm

Universität Gesamthochschule Kassel ( email )

c/o Saalbahnhofstr. 6
D-34109 Kassel

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