XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Sociology on the move, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 2010


RC homepage


Research Committee on
Sociocybernetics RC51

Programme Coordinator

Margarita Maass, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, maass@labcomplex.net


Congress Programme

Sessions descriptions

Session 1: Global problems require solutions with a global perspective
Organizer: Nils O Larsson, Sweden, skolnils@tele2.se
The global reality implies an increasing and sometimes overwhelming complexity of our individual lives and for the governing of our organizations. At the same time an increased speed in all human activities has become possible through almost unlimited communication possibilities and this creates stress and anxiousness in our lives. To solve the problems there is a need for research methods that can analyse and design human activity systems on individual, family, as well as society and global level. However, the research methods derived from the research on the natural sciences are of little help in these circumstances. The methods to be applied should be based on a systems design view and a time perspective needed for a sustainable future.

In order to design these systems the decision process must be understood. A global perspective is needed in our decision making but this is made difficult by the problem that according to neurological findings the decision perspective of the individual is reduced due to anxiety and insecurity that the above problems create. At the same time one must be aware of that a great part of the world’s population is living under conditions that make their social as well as their time perspective very limited.
The above stated problems are related to one of the conference’s main themes – sustainability – a subject which has become more and more in focus due to the threatening climate change and the present economic crisis. Sustainability is a very complex theme and might be divided in the following sub-themes:

      1. Global perspective needed in contrast to national interests and individual short perspective due to increased anxiousness.
      2. Can a sustainable world and an ever increasing economy be combined?
      3. Important decisions and the settings for these decisions needed for attaining a sustainable world.
      4. Proposals for research methods in social sciences in order to create the necessary learning and development in the direction of a sustainable world.

Session 2: Sociocybernetics and the concept of emancipation
Organizers: Michael Paetau, Center for Sociocybernetics Studies Bonn, Germany, michael.paetau@sociocybernetics.eu and Karl-Heinz Simon, Universität Kassel, Germany, simon@usf.uni-kassel.de
Sociology based on systems theory or cybernetic principles is exposed again and again to the objection that it would not give support to make scientific reasonable critics to many societal phenomena which can be clearly considered as undesirable like social exclusion, injustice, humiliation, oppression, racism, sexual discrimination,  etc.. Not infrequently systems-theoretical approaches are discredited as being »science of domination«, or being an uncritical »social-technology« stabilizing current dominion, like Habermas argued against Luhmann. Sociologists using a cybernetic approach – so the accusation – could be indignant at social injustice at best »clandestinely«. Of course one can value the observed phenomena as »good« or »bad«, but the criteria of such a valuation are to look for in ethics and moral, perhaps in philosophy, but in any case outside of sociology.

Looking on the development of cybernetics as a discipline, from the very beginning an integration of factual and normative arguments was demanded – clearly objecting the diagnosis of Habermas. This controversy should be the subject of the session. We want try to fathom which potential Socio­cybernetics have, in order to deal with the basic concepts of enlightenment, freedom and emancipation. Requests from political philosophy (e.g. Marx) could be taken as a starting point Marx concentrates on achievements of the historical development of human being which can be understood as »emancipation« and which is not already fulfilled by the formal constitution of civil rights for equality before the law as a citizen of the democratic state, but in social equality  and freedom of all human beings.

Between these controversies and more recent development in cybernetics (sociocybernetics more than 150 years passed. Today's insight that no-one is able to create an internal complexity of thoughts which correspond approximately to the complexity of his environment led to the consequence, that the idea of a »court of reason« (Kant: Critique of Pure Reason) cannot be perpetuated any longer. Reason always is contingent. And if social actors do not accept this contingency, it becomes apparent that the implementation of reason will produce force and oppression, i.e. the contrary to emancipation. We know that the newer history is full of examples showing this »dialectic of reason« (Adorno).

Systems Theory and Constructivsm in Sociology tried to take this problems into account by using the concept of the Observer and above all  the concept of the Observation of the Observation (Second Order Observation). But what does that imply for the idea of Emancipation? How can we imagine emancipation under the epistemological presupposition of a Second Order Cybernetics? And what about Luhmann’s warnings against a functionalization of ethics and moral in building theories about the society and contributions to societal problem solution processes? The session’s participants will focus on these questions and discuss a possible connectivity between problem-related requests and offerings from cybernetic theory.

The session is to be organized as a paper-presenting-session with questions and discussion at the end of every presentation.

Session 3: Observing, measuring and reconstructing emergent meaning
Organizers: José A. Amozurrutia, , UNAM-CEIICH-LabComplex, México, amoz@labcomplex.net and Gabriel Vélez-Cuartas, University of Antioquia, Colombia
This session looks for contributions to the development of a better understanding in observing, measuring and reconstructing meaning as a central concept in Social Sciences. It deals with the great challenge immersed in the core of any social problem or conflict and may be observed across a great variety of disciplines.
Decision making regarding social issues relies on the meaning associated to events, communications, actions and interactions.  Meaning is also present in the modes of action and the behavior of individuals, groups and society at large.  Additionally meaning plays a fundamental role in the survival and reproduction of living beings. However, the development of meaning is not a smooth process, it suffers struggles making meaning itself unstable. For all these reasons meaning is an object whose nature extends beyond a single discipline and requires novel approaches to its understanding. 
The issue of meaning has been studied traditionally within Philosophy and Exegetic studies, nevertheless, it has a significant relevance in XX century within the Hermeneutic perspective.  In the same way Phenomenological Sociology and its evolution through Semiotics, Linguistics and Symbolic representation Theories, meaning has been transformed in observable data. This makes that meaning could be present in organized signs, through different logics, between discourses or interpreted actions.

With the apparition of first and second order cybernetics studies at the social field, new elements begun to participate at meaning analysis from Shannon and Weaver to Luhmann´s Social System Theory. Since then, the study of information, communication and knowledge begun to be an important question to researchers interested in meaning construction. Then information began to be mixed with semiotic theories to explain not only meaning circulation but also meaning emergence in the social and biological level.   The Sociocybernetic, under the systemic and second order perspective faces the challenge to make reflexive analysis to reconstruct the emergency of the sense in narratives, events and the problems of the modern society.  In any case there is an important approach from two or more disciplines in which interdisciplinarity is fundamental to construct new understandings of meaning.
From the aforementioned disciplines, we want to invite contributions in order to think the problems of observing, measuring and reconstructing meaning.  We invite you to reflect on great questions about  the relationship between an observer and meaning. Furthermore, we want to discuss the possible ways to register the manifestations and forms of meaning, aiming to approximate its evidence and to make it explicit within a theoretical frame, enabling reflection on the associated problems focus of analysis.

Session 4: E-Health – Its implications for clients and society
Organizers: Cor van Dijkum, Utrecht University, Netherlands, c.j.vandijkum@uu.nl and Bernd R. Hornung, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg GmbH Data Protection Office, Germany, hornung@med.uni-marburg.de
After the Second World War democratization, information technology and globalization changed healthcare thoroughly. Democratization transformed the clients from objects of treatment by professionals into active participants in the health care process. Globalization brought the free market place closer to the effective choices clients can make between different services. Information technology accelerated the production, accumulation, and communication of knowledge by medical sciences, health care organizations, practitioners, and clients.

Together these trends brought a new practice and theory of healthcare, articulated in the idea of E-health: “electronic information and interactions to connect people and (democratic) communities to health services” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EHealth). This definition states in a very short way what is going on in the interweaving of modern medical science, health care, information technology, and society. Moreover, this definition is related to an opinion developed in the medical sciences over the past years that medical interventions have to be based on systematically collected empirical evidence and experience, so-called evidence-based medicine.

All of this amounts to the idea that healthcare in our knowledge society is an endeavor that involves many actors and organizations which have to cooperate to maintain and improve healthcare and which form, more and more around the backbone of digital communication, u.e. e-health, a complex system interacting both with the wider social environment and of course individual actors as clients and health care providers.

In this session papers are invited that reflect the practice of E-health and its implications for clients, health care providers, the overall health care system as well as the wider social environment. Preferably papers are invited which present practical experience or case studies of e-health, however, they may also present a theoretical point of view, evaluations and assessments, or methods of research, in particular on evaluation, and possibilities of improving e-health. Also of interest are papers on organizational change, data protection, and more technically oriented security and acceptability issues.

Session 5: Confianza y transparencia: un enfoque sociocybernético a la rendición de cuentas
Organizers: Chaime Marcuello-Servós, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain, chaime@unizar.es and Dario Menanteau-Horta, University of Minnesota, USA,
Las organizaciones sociales utilizan cada vez más el concepto de “transparencia”. Parecen haber introyectado esta noción en su imaginario institucional y en sus prácticas cotidianas. El término se ha extendido a todas ellas, sean pequeñas o grandes, pobres o ricas, del mundo de la ecología o del desarrollo, de las llamadas “sociales” a las de derechos humanos o cualquier otro ámbito en el que se quieran clasificar.

Se ha asumido el algoritmo a mayor transparencia, más posibilidades de conseguir el apoyo de la gente. Los destinatarios de la transparencia de las entidades han de ser la gente, la sociedad. Con la noción de transparencia —que es la cualidad de los materiales transparentes, aquellos que permiten ver al otro lado como si no hubiese obstáculo para la vista— se enfatiza la idea de no ocultación. Se supone que cualquier observador puede “ver” por sí mismo tanto la información como el quehacer cotidiano de las entidades.

Así pues, la idea de transparencia está ligada a una forma de concebir la gestión de las organizaciones. Su contrario es el secreto, no querer mostrar y esconder la información. Al menos en teoría, mientras el secreto genera recelo, sospecha y dudas ante quién lo práctica; la transparencia parece construir confianza en el interlocutor. Se da por supuesto que aquellas entidades más transparentes producen, en el sistema social en el que se insertan, canales de confianza con los cuales ganan tanto en prestigio —buena fama—, en fuentes de financiación —recursos y donaciones— así como en personas implicadas —voluntariado—. Todo puesto al servicio del fin con el que fueron creadas, que es lo que debe dar sentido a la organización.

En esto el paradigma sociocybernético permite abrir el espectro de análisis y conceptualización, enriqueciendo las posiciones más consolidadas.
Por tanto, esta sesión quiere ser un espacio para la presentación de los distintos aspectos de la confianza, la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas, a saber:

Cada uno de los trabajos aceptados para presentar en la sesión contará con un tiempo de exposición y otro de debate posterior. El tiempo total será de 105 minutos, distribuido por igual para cada uno de los cinco trabajos seleccionados.

Trust and transparency: A sociocybernetic approach to social accountability
Social organizations are increasingly utilizing the concept of “transparency.” It seems as though they have already incorporated this notion deeply into their institutional foundations as well as in their daily practices. The notion of transparency has extended to all of them whether they are small or large, poor or rich, from the world of ecology or development, from the social environment and human rights, or from any other domain.
Today, the algorithm that “the higher level of transparency, the greater the possibilities to obtain people’s support” has been widely accepted. After all, the members of society are the key recipients of organizations’ transparency.
The notion of transparency involves being able to see objects without major obstacles limiting the real vision. It is assumed that any observer would be able to “see” by himself the information and regular activities of social entities.
The idea of transparency, therefore, is related to a form of learning about the performance of organizations. Something contrary to this is to keep things secret by hiding information. In theory, at least, while the secret generates reservations and doubts, transparency develops trust in the interlocutor. It is generally accepted that more transparent organizations within a social system
generate channels of trust that allow them to gain in prestige, fame, financial resources and donations, attracting also volunteers and supporters. All this provides an organization with assistance to meet its goals.
The socio-cybernetic paradigm allows the study of this organizational process, enriching the analysis and concept development beyond traditional and established perspectives.
This session will provide an intellectual and professional space for presenting and discussing various aspects related to social trust, transparency, and accountability including the following:

Each accepted paper for this session will have time for presentation followed by discussion. The total time assigned for the session (105 minutes) will be equally divided among the five papers selected.

Session 6: Problem solving. Sociocybernetics’ functions of integrating disciplines of the social
Organizer: : Marialena Lunca, Netherlands, m.lunca@planet.nl
In the last decade, problem-solving has enlarged its scientific relevance beyond Artificial Intelligence and management where it originated. Rightly so, since problem-solving is a problem. Three reasons for this renewed relevance correlate positively with the emergence of sociocybernetics and two major tendencies manifested in many of the social disciplines, namely the sharing of methods/methodologies designed to suit computer processing, and the equipping of observers with means of maximising objectivity. It is hence only natural to inquire into the competence of sociocybernetics to function as a problem solver and, as such, to enhance these tendencies. The three reasons hinted to refer specifically to:

    1. The potential for integrating most, if not all, of the disciplines of the social lies in the platitude that experiencing and anticipating problems, and seeking solutions therefore are typically human, hence social. There must be commonalities in the procedures of identifying, defining, and solving problems that can be generalised apart from their (disciplinary) content.
    2. The possibility of enacting this potential aroused when the initial, rather mechanical ideal of doing twice the same thing with the same result and the least resources made room for understanding what a problem consists of and creating competent problem solvers. Heuristics and recursivity are now the main criteria of solvability. Science is viewed as the most competent problem solver because it tries to solve problem-solving raised by competent problem solvers inside and outside science.
    3. Seeking purposely for integrators and unifiers in order to joint science, decision-making, and the ‘real-time’ society. Sociocybernetics is particularly well-poised to exercise integrative and even unifying functions through models centred on such meta-concepts as control, feedback, anticipation, and second-order observation.

The challenge to this session is to exemplify and argue how problem-solving embodies the above rationales and why sociocybernetics ought to activate its integrative functions. Papers are welcome that treat problems of problem-solving such as the conflict between short- and long-term solutions, mistaken solutions for moving problems in another time or place, and the unavoidable iatrogenic problems. Note also the wider significance of problem-solving: according to the philosophy of science, problem-solving competes with truth-finding as alternative ultimate aims of science. The topic of the ‘progress in science’ is debated in these terms, and there are interesting theses on either side of the argument.

Potential contributors who may want to present a particular case of problem-solving are invited to highlight/find general rules, patterns, or models in which the particular case may be integrated. Papers are expected to include a sound definition of problem-solving in reference-and-difference to the classical definitions in the 1970s and 1980s.

Session 7: Sociocybernetics of innovation: Drivers, barriers and stabilizers of innovation in different theoretical contexts
Organizer: Eva Buchinger, Austrian Research Centers, Austria, eva.buchinger@arcs.ac.at
Presently the analysis of technological innovation has two mainstreams: one focuses on its unifying characteristics and the other on its distributed nature. Whereas the first can be summarized under titles such as “socio-technical-systems” or “innovation systems”, the second can be labelled “open innovation”.

From a sociocybernetic perspective both approaches are of equal value, since the one as well as the other examines explicitly or implicitly feed-forward, feed-back and lock-in (corresponding cybernetic and systems theoretical terms are “circularity”, “recursion”, “homeostasis”, “dynamic stability”, “dynamic instability or chaos” etc. ) . This means questions like: What are the drivers of innovation processes (feed-back, feed-forward)? What are the barriers of innovation processes? What are the stabilizers of certain achievements?

Well known theoretical cornerstones for the analysis of technological innovation are among others the invention-innovation-distinction (Schumpeter and followers), constructivist approaches (e.g. T.P. Hughes, W. Bijker, T. Pinch), actor-network-theory (e.g. M. Callon, B. Latour, J. Law), evolutionary approaches (e.g. R. Nelson, S. Winter, G. Dosi, G. Basalla), technological dynamics approaches (e.g. A. Rip, T. Misa, J. Schot, F. W. Geels, L. Leydesdorff, H. Etzkowitz), innovation networks/systems approaches (e.g. C. Freeman, B.-A. Lundvall, C. Edquist, OECD) and open/distributed innovation approaches (e.g. E. v. Hippel, K. Pavitt, H. W. Chesbrough).

According to the diversity of the theoretical approaches session-papers are welcome which either compare two or more theoretical approaches related to their conceptualization of drivers, barriers and stabilizers of innovation or examine drivers/barriers/stabilizers thoroughly on basis of an empirical innovation-example (the latter preferably, but not inevitably, in the fields of “new media” or “sustainability”, since these topics are continuous issues within RC51). 

Session 8: Sociocybernetic perspectives on education
Organizers: Bernard Scott, Cranfield University, UK, B.C.E.Scott@cranfield.ac.uk and Zachary Johnson, Zach.Johnson@mac.com
Papers are invited that address educational issues from a sociocybernetics perspective, philosophical, conceptual or empirical.  Possible topics include – but are not limited to – the following.

Session 9: On the outcome of the current economic crisis: Some reflexions from systems theory and sociocybernetics
Organizer: Francisco Parra-Luna, Spain, parraluna3495@yahoo.es
Some questions could be raised:
Which are the deep causes of the current economic crisis?. Why economic experts did not foresee it?. Which is the relationship between the functioning of the financial institutions and the real economy of countries?.  Why capitalist system did not practice the due cybernetic control to avoid the “subprimes” and the crisis?. Which is the role played by the Stocks Exchange institutions all over the world?. How many people form the so called “financial markets”? Is there a logical proportionality between its sociological importance and the economic influence?. How deep is the crisis of capitalism in the light of this relationship?. Has the capitalism system solutions to the crisis?. If so, which are they?. Are there other outcomes to the crisis from the adoption of a different socioeconomic and political system?. In fact, is the economic crisis an economic problem or is it rather an axiological one founded in the unbalanced system of values which has been produced?  How some of the countries are solving their problematic situations?. And finally, and from a systemic operational perspective, which could be the possibilities of overcoming the crisis?.

It seems clear that the correct understanding of the economic crisis would imply to answer most of these questions. But in the Session I propose, we could take two ways of dealing with the problem:

First,  we would start under the working hypothesis that the main cause of the crisis is the lack of a sufficient sociocybernetic control of the world financial system to avoid the fact of the ”subprimes”, mainly as they have been produced in the U.S.A..In this sense we could compare some causal interpretations of the crisis, and the cross comments between Hans Kuijper and Stuart Umpleby, Matjaz Mulej, Peon-Escalante  and others could  be a good starting point.

Second, to study the ways to overcome the crisis, and in this point I would propose to centre in the practical and operational solutions. I could then present a paper about the model we are developing in Spain from a systemic-axiological point of view. I would explain the model entitled “ AN AXIOLOGICAL-SETC MODEL FOR JOB CREATION IN SPAIN AND THE OUTCOME OF THE CRISIS, FOR THE PERIOD 2009-2012” elaborated by a multidisciplinary team of colleagues of three universities of Madrid which I coordinate. The main results of this model are: 1) Instead of foresee the Spanish economy in recession (-0,9 of the GDP) during 2009, the model suggests a positive increase of 1,9 of the GDP. 2) Instead of arriving to more than three millions of unemployment (15% of active population), the model suggests to reduce unemployment to only 5-7% of active population. 3) The use of public debt to finance the necessary activities could be cancelled in about 9/10 years. 4) Above all, the whole system of values would also be improved due to the dialectical relationship among the values. 5) And finally, the so call “economic crisis” would be seen not as having an economic nature, but on the contrary, an “axiological” nature. Therefore, if we continue to see the current crisis mainly as an “economic problem” and study it as such, we would make the mistake of not understanding the deep nature of the crisis and to avoid future solutions.
The “AXIOLOGICAL-SETC Model” would be in the position to verify this hypothesis, and maybe its possible applications in other countries in comparable situations.

Session 10: Corporate social responsibility and emerging corporate systems 
Organizer: S.L. Hiremath, Gulbarga University, India, slhiremath@rediffmail.com
With the advent of post modern knowledge society and emergence of new class of stakeholders, corporate world is under constraint to evolve systemic innovations and interventions to incorporate emerging management philosophies and practices. Corporate social Responsibility (CSR) is one such emerging area of corporate operations that has necessitated structural and functional interventions.  In corporate circles CSR  has come to be viewed as an indispensable component of good corporate governance and responsible corporate behavior.  However, there are diverse theoretical perspectives and approaches and resultant CSR philosophies and practices.  It is assumed that especially in developing economics and erstwhile colonies  CSR is undertaken  as an act of philanthropy or even charity, some others take recourse to CSR get rid of a sense of guilt owing to the negative implications of their operations for the community,  some others engage in CSR initiatives to divert the attention of communities and statutory regulatory authorities from their lapses and negative spillovers of their harmful operations, some others engage in CSR to repay their debt to the community for having harnessed diverse resources of the community for their profitable existence, including consumers for their products and clear their conscience  and some others just to build and promote their brand image in the corporate world.  Just as philosophy and orientation, even the CSR initiatives, their relevance for the community, layout and impact appear to be varying significantly from one socio-cultural context to the other requiring a comparative approach and analysis of CSR across the cultures to develop viable, tenable and feasible models to ascertain and identify structural and systemic implications of CSR for the corporate world particularly when CSR is taken as representing a systemic intervention in the corporate milieu. The proposed session entitled “Corporate Social Responsibility and Emerging Corporate Systems”  in the ISA RC 51 at XVII World Congress of Sociology at Goteborg, Sweden during 2010 invites papers focusing theoretically and empirically on the philosophy, initiatives, strategies and impact of CSR in different cultural settings and their structural and functional implications for the corporate systems.

Session 11: Understanding cyberspace and the Internet. Sociocybernetics on the move
Organizer: Bernd R. Hornung, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg GmbH
Data Protection Office, Germany, hornung@med.uni-marburg.de
This session, to be organized as a paper session, aims at contributing to the development of a "Sociology of the Internet" or, using a wider concept, a sociology of cyberspace. The Internet – and cyberspace – has become a daily reality in contemporary societies and is being used by large numbers of professionals and private persons. Its implications for society and personal life are far-reaching, and a lot of research is available already. The session will concentrate on the Internet and cyberspace itself collecting contributions which will hopefully permit to summarize and synthesize from existing or original research components for establishing a sociological, or rather social science, approach to the Internet.

For some it is self-evident that the Internet is a "social system", for others it is self-evident that it is a technical system. Such fundamental questions require clarification in order to analyze how sociological and sociocybernetic theory can suitably be applied to the Internet. Being a global system, questions come up like the issue of intercultural communication and cooperation. Can we can speak of a "culture of the Internet" (or even several (sub-)cultures?)? Which are the social groups or subsystems within "the" Internet? What are the distinguishing characteristics and functionalities of the Internet which are not present in other types of social systems or groups? What are the particular methodological problems and opportunities this kind of system presents to empirical social science research?

A large part of the Internet is simply infotainment or entertainmen affecting culture in the most diverse spheres of life. Other parts, however, are of professional and business use thus constituting an infrastructure for the global information and knowledge society. At the same time it provides unique opportunities for the emergence of geographically dispersed "local cultures" and "tribalism". The Internet and cyberspace can be considered as a mirror of real society, ranging from education and arts to crime. By means of the Internet information and knowledge are created, transmitted, and made accessible thus affecting directly the knowledge and value systems of human beings around the world. Indirectly it also affects behavior based on such knowledge and values as well as artefacts, i.e. technical devices, which, according to some authors, can be considered as "informed matter". In spite of the global spread of IT and the Internet, however, the majority of the world population is still very far from being included in cyberspace. The Internet is still a privilege of the rich and the educated.

Welcome are papers dealing with theoretical aspects of a sociology of the Internet, with empirical findings, with the review of existing literature and findings and also, of course, with methodological issues of research in this particular field.

The session will be organized in cooperation with CIPSH-ISSC (International Social Science Council), which initiated at a symposium on "Cultures and the Internet" held in Beijing, China, November 19-20, 2004, an agreement with the ISA and RC51 on Sociocybernetics to promote the coordination and networking on research on the Internet within the social sciences.

Session 12: Cibercultur@: Communication, information and knowledge for cognitive complex sistems  
Organizers: Jorge González, UNAM-CEIICH-LabComplex, México, jorge@labcomplex.net, José A. Amozurrutia, , UNAM-CEIICH-LabComplex, México, amoz@labcomplex.net and Margarita Maass, UNAM-CEIICH-LabComplex, México, maass@labcomplex.net
In our daily work, not only in CEIICH (Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en ciencias y humanidades) but also in many research centers in the world, complex systems are our study objects. We understand as complex sistems a specific kind of conceptual organization in which the processes that determine their operation, result from the convergence of multiple factors interacting. We may talk of “complejo social cognitivo”, cognitive social complex. Then, we propose the discussion in one session Cibercultur@: communication, information and knowledge for cognitive complex sistems, in order  to reflex around cognitive complex sistems as a concept.

The challenge to this session is invite participants to reflect on this issue, Ciberculturacommunication, information and knowledge for cognitive complex sistems. We are inviting potential contributors who may want to present a particular papers in this line.

Session 13: Comunicología y sociocibernética
Organizer: Roberto Aguirre Fernández  de Lara, Grupo hacia una Comunicología Posible, Mexico, zimmer20us@yahoo.com
El propósito de esta mesa es dialogar respecto al fenómeno de la comunicación humana como objeto de estudio en la sociología a través del estudio que ha realizado el Grupo Hacia una Comunicología Posible y concurrir con esfuerzos de investigación del ámbito de la Sociocibernética en la comprensión de la comunicación en las sociedades humanas. El trabajo en cuestión ha sido desarrollado desde la consideración de una ciencia posible de la comunicación, asunto a cuya evaluación y sistematización el grupo ha dedicado pasos y esfuerzos. A esta posibilidad científica se le ha denominado Comunicología.

En el trabajo del GUCOM han sido concurrentes tres aspectos que explican nuestro interés por participar en este evento académico y en el RC51 en particular. A saber, que las denominadas fuentes científicas de la Comunicología histórica tanto la Cibernética como la Sociología (esta última en cuatro orientaciones diferentes fundamentales: funcionalista, fenomenológica, crítica y cultural) tienen una presencia configuradora de lo escolar, lo académico y lo profesional. Y también, que en el planteamiento epistemológico y ontológico del GUCOM sobre la Comunicología, el pensamiento sistémico, el constructivismo, la semiótica -particularmente en su expresión de la cibersemiótica- y el tema de redes sociales están permitiendo desarrollar los planteamientos y la perspectiva conceptual y epistemológica del grupo.

Por las razones anteriores, la Sociocibernética es para el grupo un compañero de diálogo en sus esfuerzos por describir la comunicación humana en las sociedades contemporáneas y ofrece un marco compartido con otros esfuerzos y equipos de investigación.
La mesa propuesta, además, hace eco al interés de los organizadores por contribuir a la comprensión de la vida social y de la transformación de los modos de observarla a través de objetos y perspectivas nuevas, más en un caso en el que hay una trayectoria disciplinaria con tantos puntos de contacto y horizonte posible como lo es el estudio del fenómeno de la comunicación. En nuestro trabajo, hemos considerado que la comunicación humana ha sido para la Sociología un tema ampliamente atendido, como lo muestra la presencia de la misma en las fuentes científicas de la Comunicología histórica en el planteamiento del GUCOM, pero también ha sido un objeto y un fenómeno que se ha presentado más allá de dicha disciplina.

Como nota conviene considerar que el trabajo editorial del grupo ha generado una sistematización de las tradiciones de estudio de la comunicación, el análisis de obra editorial y autores centrales o concurrentes, una revisión de las relaciones de las Ciencias de la Comunicación con la Sociología en particular y este año desarrollaremos trabajo editorial sobre los planteamientos epistemológicos y ontológicos de la propuesta que desarrollamos.

Session 14: Complexity, relations and sociocybernetics : a French-speaking perspective
Organizers: Simon Laflamme, Laurentian University, Canada, slaflamme@larentian.ca and Pascal Roggero, Université Toulouse 1, France, pascal.roggero@univ-tlse1.fr
There is a rich and original systemic and complex thought in the French-speaking world which seems almost unknown in the English-American world in spite of important authors such as Edgar Morin, Jean-Louis Le Moigne or still Yves Barel. This thought begins to get the sociological field with, on one hand, some works on territorial systems, organizations or risks and, on the other hand, the relational studies. These research works are usually spread in the research committee 5 “Sociology of the complexity : systems and relations” of the International Association of the French speaking Sociologists and published in the international review Nouvelles Perspectives en Sciences Sociales (New Perspectives in Social sciences). The purpose of this session is to establish links between the ISA-RC 51 and the AISLF-CR 5 and to allow debates between these researchers and those who are interested in sociocybernetics. We shall in particular attempt to find the convergences and the differences between both orientations. Is there a common abstract corpus? If yes, what it is? If not, what are the differences? Do we notice a methodological convergence with, for example, the use of the multi-agents models of simulation? Is there any similarity in research objects?
Theoretical, methodological and/or empirical papers in systemic, complex or relational paradigms are welcome. Interdisciplinary collaborations are encouraged in particular those associating sociologists and computer specialists. The communications in French and in English are both possible.

Complexité, relations et sociocybernétique : une perspective francophone
Le monde francophone a développé une conception originale et riche de la systémique et de la complexité. Elle est mal connue dans le monde anglo-américain en dépit d’auteurs importants comme Edgar Morin, Jean-Louis Le Moigne ou encore Yves Barel. Cette pensée commence à toucher la sociologie. En témoignent notamment d’une part, des travaux sur les systèmes territoriaux, les organisations ou les risques et, d’autre part, les études relationnelles. Elle existe au sein du comité de recherche n° 5 « Sociologie de la complexité : systèmes et relations » de l’Association Internationale des Sociologues de Langue Française et s’exprime notamment dans le cadre de la revue internationale Nouvelles Perspectives en Sciences Sociales. La session proposée a donc pour objet d’établir des liens entre le RC 51 de l’AIS et le CR 5 de l’AISLF et de susciter des débats avec les chercheurs intéressés par la sociocybernetique. Nous nous attacherons notamment à souligner les convergences et les divergences entre les deux orientations. Existe-t-il un corpus conceptuel commun ? Si oui, quel est-il ? Si non, quelles en sont les différences ? Constate-t-on une convergence méthodologique avec, par exemple, l’utilisation des modèles de simulation multi-agents ? Existe-t-il une proximité dans les objets de recherche ?
Les travaux de nature théorique, méthodologique et/ou empirique qui s’inscrivent dans les paradigmes systémique, complexe et relationnel sont les bienvenus. Les collaborations interdisciplinaires sont aussi encouragées notamment celles qui associent sociologues et informaticiens. Les communications  pourront être faites en français et en anglais.

Session 15: Reflective modeling
Joint session of RC33 Logic and Methodology in Sociology and RC51 Sociocybernetics [host committee]

Session 16: Methodologies for sociocybernetics
Organizers: Barry Gibson, University of Sheffield, UK, b.j.gibson@sheffield.ac.uk and O V Boiko
Sociocybernetics represents an eclectic mix of approaches from the physical, biological and social sciences all of which are applied to the problem of society and social organisation.  A consequence of this mix is that a huge range of different approaches are used to describe the application of cybernetic knowledge to social systems.  All too often discussions focus on technical problems such as circular causality the deliberations on which are more akin to theoretical deliberations. Empirical approaches to sociocybernetics remain relatively uncommon.  The problem then is how can we know anything about social systems?  What range of methodologies and methods are required to unpack the plethora of problems associated with sociocybernetics? We are told that a range of techniques are available to explore sociocybernetics perspectives on society from computational modelling, to quantitative case studies and qualitative methods. Recent developments in sociocybernetics from, for example, Luhmann's social systems theory also pose unique problems for empirical study.

Kind of papers
For this session papers are invited that deal with empirical methodology for the study of social systems and problems associated with sociocybernetics. Particular emphasis will be given to applied research using empirical data collection and analysis. We welcome papers on empirical studies in sociocybernetics in general and also those directed at unpacking applied to Luhmann's social systems theory. It is envisaged that papers will seek to disentangle various theoretical problems and demonstrate their application through structured methodologies with examples of specific techniques given where appropriate.

Type of session
We emphasize the need for a range of approaches from qualitative to quantitative and welcome papers that reflect this diversity: after the presentation of a paper, session chairs will take care to involve the audience in the discussion. Each oral presentation will be prepared by providing multiple copies of each paper to participants in advance. These papers will then form the core of the discussion.

Session 17: Intertwined approaches on social emotions: Theorizing a systemic model
Organizer: Manuel Lisboa, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, m.lisboa@fcsh.unl.pt
The organization of a Portuguese session devoted to the theme “Intertwined Approaches on Social Emotions: theorizing a systemic model” has two main goals: firstly, to produce a systemic reflection on the thematic of emotions and secondly, to present developments already made on sociology of emotions, in Portuguese specking countries.

The thematic of emotions has been present with some regularity since Spinoza’s Philosophy to the, rather more consistent, William James’s Psychology, in the XIX century. It can even be found in some interactionist sociologists such as Mead, Goffman, or even Elias. Still, it was only in the beginning of the 70’s that we witness a deeper sociological effort to develop a new disciplinary area within the thematic of sociology of emotions. Involved in this new wave that approached this new disciplinary area, mention should be given to authors like Kemper, Scheff and Barbalet.
In the last decades the studies made by neuroscientists, especially Damásio, open a new window towards the articulation with social sciences, particularly with sociology when he distinguishes three different types of emotions: basic emotions, primary emotions and social emotions. This panel’s objective is to focus on a systemic approach related to social emotions.

In a more empiricist perspective, all social relations involve emotional replies. As such, the social world depends on emotional stimuli, and it becomes necessary to understand how emotions are influenced by the social world. This knowledge brings us to the sociology of emotions. Being a partially new area of interest to sociology, emotions can be addressed from a multidisciplinary point of view: psychological, biological and social perspectives should be intertwined in order to, more complementary, develop a theory system that allows a deeper and further knowledge on the thematic. It is our conviction that the area in debate can benefit from an attempt to create a multidisciplinary theory system that tries to bring together models, already developed, in each one of the scientific areas, resulting in a new theory system: one not devoted to allocate in a specific scientific area but, instead, reaches out to different disciplinary contributions. 

The second main goal, as it was mentioned above, is to present developments already made on sociology of emotions, in Portuguese specking countries (Portugal, Brazil and other Portuguese speaking African countries) especially concerning gender violence and the emotions that underline this specific social problem. The guiding line that will drive the Portuguese speaking panel is to present new studies that, starting from a specific thematic or sociological problem, successfully introduced emotions as a main interpretative model. An effort has been made by these Portuguese speaking countries to approach the different scientific areas that study emotions (those above mentioned) in order to incorporate important contributions, that each one of them produced, which can result in the creation of a original and complementary systemic model on emotions. It is clear that, from a sociological point of view, social emotions have the leading role, since it is important to understand in what way they explain social action and interaction. But it’s also clear that sociology can benefit from other scientific contributions on the area, thus, the effort on bring together such different, yet complementary disciplines.

Therefore, in this session some level of discussion is expected on the following issues:

Due to the limited available time for each session we intend to invite directly African, Brazilian and Portuguese participants. The session’s organizers will insure the participation of 5 speakers, chosen according to scientific merit in personal works developed in both the session theme and sociocybernetics. The session will begin with a brief presentation of the theme by the Chair, followed by the paper presentations and a period for questions. The available time (90 minutes already including the collective discussion) will be equally distributed among the 5 selected presentations.
The session’s working language will be in Portuguese, trying to accompany the simultaneous translation of the debate. A previous special effort of encouragement will be made among the African-Portuguese-Brazilian research networks, so as to guarantee a broad participation in the session.

Session 18: Democracy and sustainability. Balancing individualism and collectivism: Interactive design for democracy and sustainable futures
Joint session of RC10 Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management [host committee], RC36 Alienation Theory and Research, and RC51 Sociocybernetics

Session 19: Business Meeting

Session 20: Capitalism and crisis: Wither its future
Joint session of RC07 Futures Research, RC10 Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management, RC36 Alienation Theory and Research [host committee], RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change, and RC51 Sociocybernetics
Organizer: Lauren Langman, Loyola University, USA, llang944@aol.com

Proposed sessions pending confirmation

ICT challenge or threat for humankind
Organizer: Eva Kasparova, University of Economics Prague, Czech Republic,
ICT influence almost all parts of human being. Economic development in globalised world starts to be more and more depend to the technology. On the other hand doesn’t it dangerous if we give so much power to technologies? Our world starts to be smaller and more vulnerable then before.
ICT development is enormous and its impact we can see in all branch of social live. Most people start to be more and more dependent on ICT. Are we prepared to this situation? What we can do as people lived in the Earth?
Therefore the attention to the potential danger, risks and limitations seems to be very important at present information enthusiastic age.
The session will be oriented to the positive impacts of ICT development and digitalization and the negative impacts too.


The subject-oriented approach to knowing. An outline of a science of becoming and sociocybernetic epistemology
Organizer: Arne Kjellman, Stockholm University and the Royal Institute of Technologym Sweden, kjellman@dsv.su.se 

This session is devoted to a general outline to holistic knowledge and thinking – in particular the Subject-Oriented (subjectivist’s) Approach - which neither divides mind from matter, the observer from the observed nor the subject from the object. What is dealt with is the of the subject-oriented way of thinking as developed in the domain of sociocybernetics. The aim here is to pave the way for a reorientation of human scientific thinking by pointing out some severe shortcomings of the classical object-oriented (objectivist’s) approach to knowing known under the name of scientific realism – or the Newtonian paradigm. This point of attack was useful in physics, but we point out such an approximation cannot possibly work neither in the life and social sciences nor in the quantum domain of physics since here the observations made very often influence the objects of observation.

The session is devoted to alternative approaches and there are several since it in the history of science always been two epistemological approaches to the problem of building models of the presumed world; the subjectivist’s and the objectivist’s one. In the former takes the cognitive subject and its experience as the point of departure, whereas in the second case one proceeds from a consideration of the pre-given things themselves and a postulation of their observer-independent existence - clearly articulated or not. This session will concentrate on the basic ontological assumptions of the subjectivist’s approaches and give prominence to the fact that a science liberated from all subjective elements – as proposed by Galileo and Newton - cannot possibly account for human feelings and will and must therefore without doubt leave out the most important factor affecting human decisions – human feelings and intuition.  For that reason classical science is unable to understand human consciousness and living social behavior. As witnessed by the modern quantum physics this approach even results in incompleteness and inconsistencies also in the natural sciences.

The history displays, however, that classical science in its deed, in spite of its clear declarations of objectivity, nevertheless heavily took guidance by the feelings and intuition of its practicing. This fact unhesitatingly suggests that the instructed non-subjectivity of the detached scientific observer is most of all a drawing-board product – a dictum that is very often neglected. The session will advance the idea that disobedience to these very core principles of classical science is the actual reason for the (partial) success of modern science - rather than some soundness of its basic principle the realist’s doctrine. Such insights will in one strike remove the bewildering Cartesian dualism, the troublesome chasm between the natural and social sciences as well as other humanities. This session  tutorial will elevate that the subject-oriented approach is a collective conception that houses a row of movements like phenomenology, phenomenalism, constructivism, autopoesis, feminism, etcetera – that all can be derived more or less directly from the ideas of cybernetics as defined by N. Wiener and are used mainly in the living and social sciences. Emphasis will be laid to the fact that a radical reorientation of human thinking is required – all the way down to the formulation of its basic epistemological principles. A true shift of paradigm in its very Kuhnian sense.