Monthly Archives: March 2016

Power, Possibility Surplus, Mass Incarceration

Power is doubly contingent. The holder of power and the subordinate must both have possibilities to act otherwise; that is to say, there must a possibility surplus on both sides. If either the holder of power or the subordinate must act … Continue reading

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Shared Blog: “Crazy like us” – Wie Amerika den Rest der Welt verrückt macht

Eine wichtige Neuerscheinung des aktuellen Jahres ist soeben im dgvt-Verlag Tübingen erschienen. Es handelt sich um die deutsche Übersetzung eines Buches von Ethan Watters, auf das ich schon 2011 im systemagazin aufmerksam gemacht habe. Watters ist ein amerikanischer Journalist, der … Continue reading

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How does memory forget?

In Theory of Society, Luhmann argues that memory is the capacity to remember and forget. Systems must be able to forget. Memory is a system function (or operation), not a storage space. Meaning-based systems become overburdened (or overly complex and thus … Continue reading

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Systems Theory and Postmodernism

I’ve been listening to a lecture by Luhmann titled  “Systems Theory and Postmodernism.” Early in the lecture, Luhmann mentions a conversation he had with Lyotard in which Lyotard said “The Postmodern Condition was not one of his better books.” Luhmann proceeds … Continue reading

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Trust in a Risk Society

  In “From Norms to Trust: The Luhmannian Connections between Trust and System,” Janne Jalava, of the University of Helsinki, writes, One of the best-known early theories by Niklas Luhmann is his theory of trust. In his book, Vertrauen (1968), Luhmann … Continue reading

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US Dept of Justice versus Apple: The Law and the Economy as Autonomous Systems

I’ve been thinking about the controversy between Apple and the US Department of Justice. The first thing to recognize is that when a state, which is a huge organization that operates by accessing the political and legal systems, attempts to exert … Continue reading

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“Soylent Green is People!” But society isn’t.

I hope someone other than me will get that 1973 pop cultural reference. Anyway, to elaborate on some earlier blog posts, if we start with the premise that society is a whole that consists of people as the parts, we then need to ask how … Continue reading

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