adi onggoboyo’s note

they don’t ask me about theory

Posted on: November 22, 2008

I have been still thinking why the audience of my colloquium tend to methodological questions and focusing the problem? Why didn’t they ask or criticize me from the theory perspective? I don’t know, but I only assume that my perspective is not popular here. I use Niklas Luhmann’s System Theory…

Perhaps the reasons as listed below:

I see Niklas Luhmann’s theory, it is very rare used by professor or lecturer in our (Indonesia) University, specially from social science and humanities department.

Jonathan Turner categorized Luhmann as functionalism theorist. It means that Luhmann just follow and develop the previous theorist like Talcott Parsons, and including him in the same characteristic: functionalism. Because of evolution perspective of Parsons, there is only one universal way to reach development and going to stablility, it make many scholar don’t agree because of its support for status quo power and avoid the conflicts. Turner’s book of sociological theory, it is used as main book by both lecturer and students here.

My friends are usually interested to just only several thinker. Nearly nobody take symbolic interactionism. I don’t know why they are more interested with macro theory (?)

George Ritzer has different perspective to categorize Luhmann. He includes him in the special chapter: System Theory.

I try exploring Luhmann (even it’s hard for me to understand Luhmann’s idea), and I think I find more interesting thing that never given to us when the lecturer explained the sociological theory in the classroom. Perhaps Luhmann’s idea step too forward so that many scholar need more time to understand what his mean (or they can’t see the effect of this theory).

As a flash info, this is one of Luhmann’s idea:

(I Take this below paragraph from Jakob Arnoldi’s Writing; Niklas Luhmann: An Introduction; Journal Theory Culture Society 2001; 18; 1. DOI: 10.1177/02632760122051607. The online version of this article can be found at:

Luhmann defines social systems as communicative systems. Based on a notion of double contingency, he develops a theory of communication that understands communication not as a transmission of meaning or information from one subject to another but as an autopoietic system that emerges out of the double contingent encounter of subjects. Because of the intrinsic impossibility of knowing if one’s interpretation of the other’s impartation matches the other’s intentions (who has similar difficulties interpreting one’s own impartations) communication tends to evolve on its own – as an autopoietic system – removed from the conscious processes of the subjects ‘communicating’. Based on this premise, Luhmann analyses historically different ways in which – and the means by which – social systems evolve, stabilize and reproduce themselves. – Jakob Arnoldi


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