Does Systems Differentiation Present a Risk for Contemporary Society?

Jiří Šubrt



For Niklas Luhmann modern society is a functionally differentiated society, i. e. it is composed of heterogeneous but equal parts which are relatively independent and are defined as social sub¬systems. Luhmann’s analysis presents contemporary society as a whole differentiated into functionally dependent yet autonomous sub-systems that constitute neighbouring worlds for each other. This raises the question of the existence or non-existence of potential unifying forces or integration mechanisms. In Luhmann’s view the main problem is the non-existence of means of “metacommunication”. The development of specialised media and codes in the individual sub-systems increases the overall complexity of the social system, but does not entail the metacom¬munication that would make possible the self-observation and self-reference of the social system as a whole.


systems diff erentiation; subsystems; self-reference; media; codes; risk; supervision

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: