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The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation$
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Wolfgang Merkel, Raj Kollmorgen, and Hans-Jürgen Wagener

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829911.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 June 2021

System

System

Chapter:
(p.17) Chapter 2 System
Source:
The Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation
Author(s):
Wolfgang Merkel, Raj Kollmorgen, Hans-Jürgen Wagener
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198829911.003.0002

This chapter explores the system concept, which refers to the totality of structures (institutions) and rules (procedures) that place political and social actors (parties, associations, organizations, individuals) in rule-guided interactions with one another in order to fulfil system-preserving functions and reproduce them constantly in a circuit-like manner. Complexity is the raison d’être of system construction. If one were to try to describe society as a whole, one could not get around the sheer multiplicity of constitutive elements and their possible relationships. System-theoretical approaches to social change, e.g., by Talcott Parsons and Niklas Luhmann, shed light on the interrelations between the functional requirements of socio-economic systems and the formation of social and political structures that meet these requirements. The example of the economic system illustrates that transformation as a consciously designed process of system change is possible only within narrow bounds. The recursive structure of relationships within the system and the linkages with the environment generally prevent a sensible intervention from the outside or a cybernetic control from the inside over highly complex processes.

Keywords:   complexity, contingency, mechanisms of adaptation, system change, functional differentiation, input–output model, autopoiesis, stability, legitimation, efficiency

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