System Theory as Global Sociology-Japanese Ramifications of Parsonian and Luhmannian Thought

Heinze, Ulrich (2013) System Theory as Global Sociology-Japanese Ramifications of Parsonian and Luhmannian Thought. The American Sociologist, 44 (1). pp. 54-75. ISSN 1936-4784

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Abstract

This article explores various engagements of system theory with Germany and Japan, looking in particular at the theories of Talcott Parsons and Niklas Luhmann. Talcott Parsons based his sociological theory on the idea of a system of the values of a given society. Niklas Luhmann’s extended version was based on the idea of self-reproduction (or “autopoiesis”) of social systems within all modernized societies. Two studies have recently re-examined system theory on basis of its engagement with Japan: Günther Distelrath has subjected Parsonian theory on Japanese modernity to a structural revisioning in Die japanische Produktionsweise (1996); and Peter Fuchs has reconciled what he calls the “dividualism” of the Japanese psyche with the Luhmannian theory of functional differentiation in Kommunikation — Japanisch (1995). Distelrath critiques the Parsonian school of thought for giving Japan the status of a backward “follower” of the West. Fuchs, in contrast, endorses the universalist premise of Luhmann’s concept of society and makes Japanese “dividualism” the paradigm of effective modernization. Following on from Fuchs, I argue that system theory has the potential to overcome cultural limitations and become a global sociology. Its theoretical agenda in the twenty-first century includes the refinement of its concepts of the psychical system, the revision of its notion of the public and the mass media, as well as a systematic contribution to environmental protection and ecological communication in a functionally differentiated world society.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: parsons,luhmann,system theory,functional differentiation,japan,values ,autopoiesis
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art History and World Art Studies
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Depositing User: Katherine Humphries
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2012 14:05
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2020 16:10
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/40175
DOI: 10.1007/s12108-012-9168-z

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