Niklas Luhmann  book cover
1st Edition

Niklas Luhmann

ISBN 9780415490948
Published May 2, 2011 by Routledge
184 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Niklas Luhmann offers an accessible introduction to one of the most important sociologists of our time. It presents the key concepts within Luhmann’s multifaceted theory of modern society, and compares them with the work of other key social theorists such as Jürgen Habermas, Michel Foucault, and Zygmunt Bauman.

The book pays particular attention to introducing and discussing Luhmann’s original sociological systems theory. It presents a thorough investigation into the different phases of his oeuvre, through which both the shifting emphases as well as the continuities in his thinking are shown. The primary focus of this text is Luhmann’s theory of modern society as being differentiated into a plethora of ‘function systems’ – such as politics, law, and economy – which operate according to their own distinct logics and which cannot interfere with one another. For Luhmann, this functional differentiation works as a bulwark against totalitarian rule, and as such is a key foundation of modern democracy. Furthermore, the book critically examines the implications of this functional differentiation for inclusion and exclusion dynamics, as well as for the understanding of power and politics.

This is a key text for both undergraduate and postgraduate students of areas including contemporary social theory, political sociology, and sociology.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction  2. Social Systems  3. Observing Systems  4. The Functional Differentiation of Modern Society  5. Consequences of Function Differentiation  6. Power and Politics  7. Conclusion

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Christian Borch is an Associate Professor at the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. His research interests include sociological systems theory, power, sociology of crowds and architecture.


"Borch has written a beautiful introduction to Luhmann, showing an admirable knowledge of Luhmann’s work, the discussions in the Luhmann community in the years after his death, and the intellectual climate in which Luhmann operated. He has a great talent for presenting complicated themes in a pedagogical way and without simplifying beyond recognition. Beginners may start here, and oldtimers can revive their attention to the weird and wonderful world of Luhmann." – Cybernetics and Human Knowing