Sociocybernetics is an independent chapter of science in sociology based upon the
General Systems Theoryand cybernetics.
It also has a basis in
Organizational Development(OD) consultancy practice and in Theories of Communication, theories of psychotherapies and computer sciences. The International Sociological Association has a specialist research committee in the area – [http://www.unizar.es/sociocybernetics RC51] – which publishes the (electronic) "Journal of Sociocybernetics". (See also: [http://www.sociocybernetics.eu www.sociocybernetics.eu] )
The term "socio" in the name of sociocybernetics refers to any
social system(as defined, among others, by Talcott Parsonsand Niklas Luhmann).
The idea to study society as a system can be traced back to the origin of sociology when the emergent idea of functional differentiation has been applied for the first time to society by
The basic goal, why sociocybernetics was created, is to produce a theoretical framework as well as information technology tools for responding to the basic challenges individuals, couples, families, groups, companies, organizations, countries, international affairs are facing today.
ociocybernetics analyzes social 'forces'
It is common observation that public policy rarely achieves its manifest goals, and, indeed, usually achieves its opposite. In education, for example, more than 80% of the population agree that its main goals include nurturing the diverse talents of the pupils and individual qualities like initiative. But schools rarely attend to these goals and the system as a whole achieves its opposite – it arranges people in a single hierarchy (misleadingly termed “ability”) the main function of which is to legitimize and perpetuate a divided society which compels most people to participate in the destructive activities of which modern societies are so largely composed. (See eg Raven, 1994, 1995). The same discrepancy can be observed at the individual level: whereas most people support activities which would help to stem our headlong plunge toward extermination as a species (see
sustainability), most engage in activities which have the opposite effect.
Many people offer “common sense” explanations of these discrepancies and many of these have some foundation. But the truth is more basic. We find ourselves at the mercy of a series of hidden social forces which form a network of mutually supportive feedback loops. We find ourselves in the world similar to that in which people found themselves prior to Newton. At that time, it was believed that if things moved or changed direction it was of their internal properties. They were ``animated``. After Newton it was because they were acted upon by a network of invisible forces which could nevertheless be mapped, measured, and harnessed. (To extend the quotation from Plato given at the beginning of the main cybernetics entry, it was impossible, until this was done, to design sailing boats that would harness the available forces in such a way as to be able to sail into the wind – and thus to enable captains and their crews to get where they wanted to get to.)
One of the tasks of sociocybernetics is to map, measure, harness, and find ways of intervening in the parallel network of social forces that primarily control human behavior. To link once more back to the basic definition of cybernetics, the task is to understand the guidance and control mechanisms that actually govern the operation of society (and the behavior of individuals more generally) and then to devise better ways of harnessing and intervening in them – that is to say to devise more effective ways of running (and, to link back to the origins of the word cybernetics one may use the word “governing”) society in the long term public interest. As such, sociocybernetics is crucial to the survival of our species (see
ociocybernetics aims to generate a general theoretical framework for understanding cooperative behavior.
It claims to give a deep understanding of the General Theory of Evolution.The key that Sociocybernetics gives to all living system lies in a Basic Law of SocioCybernetics. It says: All living systems go through five levels of interrelations (social contracts) of its subsystems:
*A. Aggression: survive or die
*B. Bureaucracy: follow the norms and rules or woodoo death
*C. Competition: my gain is your loss
*D. Decision: disclosing individual feelings, intentions
*E. Empathy: cooperation in one unified interest
Going through these five phases of relationship gives the framework for all evolutional systems. It serves as an "equation for life" in biology and ecological sciences.It is one of the basic components in the General Integrating Theory in Philosophy of Science
One of the possible end-products of sociocybernetics would be a software system that allowed humans to live a global community society instead of countries...
Issues and challenges
Recent research from the
Santa Fe Institutepresent the idea that social systems like cities don't behave like organisms as has been proposed by some in sociocybernetics. [Luís M. A. Bettencourt, José Lobo, Dirk Helbing, Christian Kühnert, and Geoffrey B. West. Growth, innovation, scaling and the pace of life in cities. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0610172104v1]
* Raven, J. (1994). "Managing Education for Effective Schooling: The Most Important Problem Is to Come to Terms with Values." Unionville, New York: Trillium Press. (OCLC 34483891)
* Raven, J. (1995). "The New Wealth of Nations: A New Enquiry into the Nature and Origins of the Wealth of Nations and the Societal Learning Arrangements Needed for a Sustainable Society". Unionville, New York: Royal Fireworks Press; Sudbury, Suffolk: Bloomfield Books. (ISBN 0-89824-232-0) (Chapters 1 [which summarises the whole book] , 4 [“Some Observations on Money”] , and 17 [Summary of Parts I to III and overview of Part IV: The Way Forward] are available at [http://www.npsnet.com/cdd/nwn.htm www.npsnet.com/cdd/nwn.htm] ).
General systems theory
Social cycle theory
List of cycles
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