Thesis Eleven 143 (1):56-69 (2017)

This article discusses some possibilities for a critical interpretation of Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory. On the one hand, this theory could provide a sophisticated new sociological account of well-known modern social pathologies, such as alienation and reification; on the other, it could be considered a crypto-normative model for the reciprocal mediation between system and environment in which neither blind tautologies nor colonizations would take place. I argue that as a normative model this theoretical matrix seems to resonate with aspects of Adorno’s negative dialectics between subject and object and that the involuntary promise it contains could be fully realized only under other social conditions. The article also presents a preliminary critique of neoliberalism reconceptualized in systems theoretical terms as a dedifferentiation machinery that aims at establishing the primacy of economic rationality and the formation of ‘industries’ in different social spheres.
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DOI 10.1177/0725513617741138
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References found in this work BETA

A Brief History of Neoliberalism.David Harvey - 2005 - Oxford University Press.
Negative Dialectics.Raymond Geuss - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (6):167-175.
Social Systems.N. Luhmann, John Bednarz & Dirk Baecker - 1998 - Human Studies 21 (2):227-234.

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