A theory is any form of the statement that tries to explain the manner in which certain phenomenon do occur outlining reasons why these phenomena are related. Theories are sometimes referred to as paradigms and are believed to constitute a series of complex frameworks that are theoretical in nature. Either, they provide a methodological way of explaining phenomena and analyzing them too. The phenomena revolve around the elements related to the study of sociology. Theories are an important aspect of any study. In the study of sociology, they help the philosophers arrange their sociological knowledge in an organized manner. Theories of sociology are used to study the human behavior and operations. Since human behavior evolves with time, the sociological theories have to change with time too. This, therefore, explains why the sociological theories have been evolving since their invention. This paper endeavors to study the concept of sociological theories specifically concentrating on Niklas Luhmann sociological theory of autopoietic systems. Either, it gives a historical perspective of Luhmann’s contribution in the field of sociological studies and a personal interpretation of his autopoietic sociological theory’s influence based on individual account and experiences.
The sociological theories involve the analysis of objects and events on a macro level that ensures it focuses on the various social structures within the society. It can also take part on a micro level where it will focus its analysis on the various social interactions between the identified social structures. The study of the social systems within any given society tries to define the various sets of ideas that are interrelated. These interrelated ideas allows for the systematization of knowledge that is used to explain the social world in an attempt to predict the manner in which future social worlds will be constituted. There are major perspectives to the concept of sociological theory and its studies. The aspects are four and include the classical theories of social concepts, the theories on political philosophies and social systems contrasts, the theories on the modern social life and theories that deal with post modern social concepts and studies.
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The theory on political philosophies and contrasts of the social systems tries to reveal the origins of various inequalities within the society. It then does a thorough check and analysis on these inequalities of social contrasts that are meant to be part and parcel of any social integration within societies. Either, they do define the social spheres in which any civilized society must operate. Its emphasis is majorly on people’s liberty and the revolutions that are meant to bring changes within societal set ups. The theories on classical social systems are regarded as the first theories of modern times. Their study laid the ground upon which the positivism theories were based. Either, the Darwinian theories drew various aspects from the classical theories of modern systems. This theory proposes that since time immemorial, the various histories of humanity have endeavored to pursue the same path that is common to all of them and is found to be fixed without any form of variations. The modern social theories have a strong relationship with academic sociology and it expands the concepts of classical theories. The theories of post modern social systems show the movement of individual ideas that are found to be critical in modern times. It highlights the most fundamental factors that are involved in transmitting words that appear different. The differences are as a result of economic and technological factors which have consequently caused decentralization within the society.
My analysis chose Niklas Luhmann who has had a big influence on the theories of social systems, autopoietic theories, phenomenological theories and theories of distinctions. He structured his work based on theories of social systems, theories on society, organizational theories and theories that were based on face to face interactions. He delved further in the study of the autopoietic system and psychic systems. An autopoietic system does have an element of reproducing itself within its system. Such systems behave like plants that use their own cells to reproduce other cells. Luhmann modified the concepts found in biological autopoietic systems and applied them in his study of social systems. He argued that the social systems also reproduce elements that are their own and uses the very same elements in their system to do so. The elements that are found in any autopoietic systems are never produced anywhere other than within the system itself. These systems are therefore considered to be operatively closed. They have only enclosed in their operative systems alone and the remaining aspects of these systems are open to interaction with the external environment where inputs and outputs get exchanged. Luhmann referred to the various operations of these autopoietic systems as cognition as he likened them to life. Cognition is generally life itself. He believed the autopoietic systems behaved like living things as they do not receive any form of inputs from the environment but get irritated just as any other living thing would get irritate by its environment. To him, the irritations caused an infringement on the internal procedures and processes within these autopoietic systems. The irritations, either, do not act as determinants of the processes as their outlook is totally independent of the external irritations.
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Luhmann did not just apply the concepts of autopoietic theory as they were originally. He took an abstract version of it and identified two dimensions in addition to the ones he had earlier identified. The two additional dimensions of the autopoietic theory that Luhmann studied were the social systems and the psychic system. The social systems reproduced themselves through means of communication. The psychic systems reproduce based on the consciousness and thoughts of individuals. The two systems have elements that are meaningful. He separated the social system in three distinct parts. These are the societies in which individuals operate in, the organizations within these societies and the interactions between the societies and the organizations. He then subdivided the autopoietic systems into three distinct levels. The first level constitutes the statements about the autopoietic systems and is general. These statements do not have any reference to the mode of elements production. The second level is whereby there are different applications of the theories on a general level. It also includes the various researches that have been carried out in an attempt to study specific characteristics of the living things, the social and psychic systems. The last stage constitutes the various researches carried out on the societies, the organizations within the societies and the interactions between these organizations and societies at large. At this stage, the mode of interactions is specific and clearly defined. The mode is also analyzed critically.
Luhmann’s theory advances communications as an important element within the social interactions. Communications is about making the decision and he, himself, had to decide on the specific concept of his theory. He had to clearly identify the elements to include within the social system. Communication became an element in the reproduction process that was characterized by three major elements. The elements are information, utterances made and the understanding of the information itself. The information has to be carefully selected in a responsible manner from the many repertoires available. The type of communication selected must bring out the message that is intended to be communicated. The understanding must also bring out the distinction between the utterances made and the information passed. Luhmann argues that the information communicated must be distinct from the manner in which it is communicated and the reasons why it is communicated. Its understanding is determined by the person listening to it and is independent of what the person speaking has in mind. He established that the networks of communication do reproduce the communication a fresh and that the communications are accompanied by expectations on them. The topic of communication must, therefore, be specific.
As an individual born in the country of Germany at a time when the effects of the Second World War were still being felt, the events that took place during this period had a major impact in my life as it greatly influenced my perception about various issues majorly during my youth stage. This majorly happened in the post damer pact agreements where the allied powers decided to control the education system. Their main reason of controlling the education sector was that the Nazi and the military teachings were not to be introduced in the education curriculum. They did not want the education system to successfully help in the development of democratic processes that would later lead to unrests as people would demand their rights which was denied by then. All these happened at a time the cold war started and most governments were scared of the uprisings that were taking place in other areas. The eastern part of Germany was by then under the control of the Soviet Union while the Western section was under the influence of the Americans. The two sections of German also had different education systems with the East making Marxism- Leninism part and parcel of the syllabus while the west had a system confessional schools were established as the military administration did not want to spend on the education sector. This meant that every state in West Germany had its own form of education.
By the time I stated schooling; communication was strictly controlled and supervised by the government. Teaching did not involve classroom activities that much and the education system relied on functionalism. With time, the system changed and various reforms were carried out. We were able to acquire the required system of education where students ended up being in charge of the affairs in learning institutions. Universities become the most liberal as the students almost took total control of the manner in which they were being run.
This change had a great impact on my career and future engagement. As a student back in the university, I was able to access as many forms of information as possible that enable me to acquire new skills that am able to apply in my day to day activities. I learnt on how to use computers and access the internet where I could access more information as I wanted. This has greatly impacted in my career today as I able to use my computer to store a variety of documents instead of using bulks of papers and files to store them. The internet comes in handy in that I can access much information that is vital in my career today. I do not have to carry with me piles and piles of huge books that are difficult to read since the internet directs me to the exact information I am looking for. This has also helped me save on time that I would have otherwise used in perusing the huge piles of books and papers.
To conclude, the freedom of information accessibility and the various innovations that came with it has also impacted in the manner I communicate. The advent of e-mails and telephones has eased the way I communicate with other people. I no longer have to rely on the writing of letters that have to take longer periods so as to reach the intended person. With the telephone and e-mail I am able to reach other people with ease and get instant feedback without much stress. I am also able to share ideas with as many people as possible through communication which has made my career easier. Therefore, I can conclude that freedom of communication is very vital in the progress of an individual within the society as I have experienced it myself.
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