Systems thinking applied to sociology

(Salim Virani) #1

(English subtitles available on Youtube)

How do communities learn from another? When do they resist it?

To understand modern society, Niklas Luhmann looked at society as a large, complex communication system, and started to break it down into sub-systems. He distinguished modern society in that it’s main division of components are functional - economic, political, etc. - and that they interrelate. We choose the appropriate set of rules based on what we’re doing, if we’re transacting, voting, playing a game, driving. Different behaviours are appropriate based on function. We also run into problems when one functional system is misaligned with another.

This got me thinking about different cultures and their preferred systems. For example, students of Ayn Rand apply economic logic to social issues, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs use the “scalable technology” hammer for every opportunity nail. I’m wondering if you can look at a given community and find commonality in their preferences of Luhmann’s “functional communication systems.”

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