Structuration Theory and Self-Organization

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Social  systems  theory is  dominated  by  a  reductionistic  individualism  and  a  dualistic  functionalism. Especially the  latter doesn’t adequately  integrate the human being. In order to avoid dualism, mechanistic determinism and reductionism,  a  dialectical  concept  of  social  systems  that is  based  on  the  notion  of  self-organization  seems necessary. In order to establish a dialectical theory of social self-organization it is appropriate to integrate aspects of  Anthony  Giddens’  structuration  theory.  Gidden’  acknowledges  the  importance  of  knowledgeable  human actors  in  society  and  argues  that  structures  are  medium  and outcome  of  actions  (theorem  of  the  duality of  structure).  Structures  both  enable and  constrain  social  actions.  This  idea corresponds  to  saying  that  social systems  are  re-creative,  i.e.  self-organising  social  systems.  Re-creativity  is  based on  the creative activities  of  human beings. Social structures exist in and through the productive practices and relationships of human actors.  The  term  evolution  can  be  employed  in  a  non-functionalist  way  that  acknowledges  the  importance  of knowledgeable  human  actors  in  social  systems  by  conceiving  the  historical  development  of  society based  on  a  dialectic  of  chance and necessity  and  the  principle  of  order  through  fluctuation  in  situations of  instability and  bifurcation.  All  self-organising  systems  are  information-generating  systems.  Giddens’  concept  of  storage mechanisms  that  allow  time-space  distanciation  of  social  relationships  helps  to  describe  the  relationship  of information and self-organization in social systems. 

About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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