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XVIII ISA World Congress Web Program

The full XVIII ISA World Congress web program is now available for you to access at: The program for RC51 Sessions only is also available at:

Journal of Sociocybernetics, Vol. 11, is out!

From our Journal Editor

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce to you that the Vol. 11 (2013) of JOURNAL OF
SOCIOCYBERNETICS is out. You can view it here

But I must inform you that the publication of the current issueis not free of dolour. Deeply shocked and with great sorrow wehad to take note that Nils O. Larsson, one of the authors of the lastissue of JoS, passed away unexpectedly. For many years Nils O. Larssonwas a member of the Research Committee on Sociocybernetics (RC 51) andthe International Sociological Association (ISA). He was part of theWorld Congress of Sociology 2010 in Gothenburg, where he organized theRC 51 – Session “Global problems require solutions with a globalperspective”. This session was strongly related to one of the mainthemes of the XVII World Congress of Sociology: sustainability, asubject which had become more and more in focus due to the threateningclimate change and the present economic crisis. In the face of theincreasing and sometimes overwhelming complexity of these problems, itwas Nils’ ambition to develop an adequate research method that couldanalyse and design human activity systems on an individual, family, aswell as a societal and global level. He called this methodology”Decision Settings Analysis”. Three of the papers, presented in hisworld congress session were published later in Volume 10 of JoS.Unfortunately Nils has not lived to see the results of his endeavours.He passed away during the editorial process which only became aware tous once the volume had been published. Today, as we prepare for theVXIII World Congress of Sociology in Yokohama, Nils O. Larsson ismissed very much.

The current issue of the Journal of Sociocybernetics includes threetheoretical oriented articles and one empircal study. In their article“Changing Social Focusing in Indigenous Social Movements” the authorsDavid Flynn and James Hay develop a theory to explain why some socialmovements develop through stages of increasing intensity which wedefine as an increase in social focusing. The authors name six suchstages of focusing: disintegration, revitalization, religious,organisation, militaristic, and self-immolation. Their theory uses twovariables from the social sciences: differentiation and centrality,where differentiation refers to the internal structure of a socialsystem and centrality measures the variety of incoming information. Theratio of the two, differentiation/centrality (the d/c ratio) is ashorthand way of saying that centrality must be matched by acorresponding level of differentiation to maintain basic focusing. Totest the theory the authors examine historically indigenous socialmovements, in particular, the Grassy Narrows movement in northernOntario Canada.

Ksenia Sidorova, Roxana Quiroz Carranza and Astrid Karina Rivero Pérezpresent an empirical study about the youth in a marginalized Communityin Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. The subjects of the research are allstudents of a high school, created by a local university specificallyfor the needs of their community. The study looks into the processes oftheir construction as knowing subjects that possess their own ideas onwhat it means to be young, participate in personal networks, and havehad a unique experience related to the human rights, which more thanoften are violated in the case of “marginalized” youth.

In continuation of his “Introduction into Sociocybernetics” Roberto Gustavo Mancilla presents now the third and last part which is named “Fourth Order Cybernetics” and where the author focusses the question of rationality and language. The first and second part were published in volumes 9 and 10 of JoS.

Finally, looking forward the 50 anniversary of the death of NorbertWiener in 2014, Michael Paetau asks in his article “Niklas Luhmann andCybernetics” in what extent we can include Luhmann’s work into thecybernetic tradition. Which are the significant connection-pointsbetween cybernetics and Luhmann’s work? What is the relevance of thisconnection for Luhmanns own theoretical development? Which are thecongruences and which are the differences? To what extent is Luhmann’sTheory of Social Systems even though his critical distance integrableinto the spectrum of the approaches of “New Cybernetic” (as Geyer &van der Zouwen formulated in 1986)?

The next edition of JoS is currently prepared. For further issues weinvite schoolars who have their background in the field of systemstheory, sociocybernetics, information- and communication science andwho apply this for studying various social phenomena regarding theircomplexity and dynamics, to submit articles for publication in theJournal of Sociocybernetics .For submitting articles authors need toregister with the journal prior to submitting. People who want toregister have the option to register as a reader or as an author. Everyreader or author can register by themselves using the journal’swebsite. After clicking the register item they will be guided throughthe registration process. After registration they will be able to loginby username and password and then authors may submit their papers. Thesystem will immediately confirm the submission and will automaticallytrigger the review process. Authors will get an email with a URL thatwill enable them to track its progress through the editorial processonce they are logged in. We recommend to review the “About the Journal”page for the journal’s policies, as well as the “Author Guidelines”

Abstracts Booklet for 12th Conference of Sociocybernetics

We just uploaded the traditional abstract booklet for papers presented during the 12th Conference of Sociocybernetics.

Publication of selected contributions is planned as an outcome of the Conference. Two journals have offered to accept papers: the Journal of Applied Research and Technology (JART), which will publish a special issue devoted to conference papers and the RC51 official journal, Journal of Sociocybernetics (JoS) where papers with a more conceptual and theoretical contributions related to our field of study are appreciated.

In the meanwhile please don’t forget that the abstract submission for Yokohama is already open (deadline 30th September).

15 Years After – In Memoriam Niklas Luhmann


Bernd R. Hornung

Originally published in the ISA Bulletin no. 78-79, 1999, pp. 24-26


The death of Niklas Luhmann on November 6, 1998 was a great loss. He was a most important contemporary intellectual leader and representative of systems science in sociology. Indeed, his influence extended far beyond sociology.

We owe a great debt to Niklas Luhmann for numerous important findings, breakthroughs, and intellectual challenges. Again and again he opened surprising views and new perspectives to sociology, systems science, and numerous other disciplines. He was one of the very few contemporary sociologists who indeed changed paradigms: from structural-functionalism to functional-structural and problem-functionalist theory, from the society of action to the society of communication and semantics, from the social “machine” to autopoiesis. Some of these changes may seem only to be playing with words, and yet this shifting of terms changed worlds.

He was a sharp observer of minute differences. No wonder he embraced the theory of the organization of the living of Maturana and Varela, in which the concept of the observer plays a key role. Combined with his precise and complex reasoning trained in legal science he further developed this theory and transferred it to sociology, where it became soon a cornerstone of his own monumental construction of theory.

Theory was his passion. But beyond being a great theorist, he was a great person. He had a lot of patience, towards his topics of study as well as towards his students and friends. Many friends and colleagues appreciated and enjoyed his sense of humor and his contagious smile. Scientific dispute and conflict he could keep separate from personal relations, as demonstrated brilliantly in the controversy with Habermas.

A considerable part of his life work consists in applying his abstract, complex frame of theoretical reference to virtually all areas of society, from the internal workings of administration to global ecological problems, from politics and economy to arts, love, and religion. Aiming at a universal theory of society no sector of society was left out in his attempt to apply, test, and further develop his theory. He used his incredible encyclopedic knowledge, accumulated from the tremendous amount of reading he did.

Luhmann spent most of his life in the plains of Northern Germany, not on the coast, but at Lüneburg, Hannover, Münster, and Bielefeld, where the sea is beyond the horizon, sending the winds to sweep up the skies, blue and grey. Horizons, after all, become one of the key concepts in his theory. It seems they were a key concept in his life too, as again and again he moved towards new challenges.

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Announcing 2013 annual conference

Just a quick announcement about the 12th international conference of sociocybernetics.

The conference will be organized by our colleagues from UNAM in Mexico City.  The venue will be in Merida (nearby Cancun) in the region of Yucatán (México). The general time frame is summer 2013.

Expect more details in the upcoming call for papers (expect it around the end of the year).