ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, July 2014

Research Committee on
Sociocybernetics, RC51

RC51 main page

Program Coordinator

Number of allocated sessions including Business Meeting: 18.

 

For sessions program and schedule see

On-line congress program

 

A More Equal World: A Systemic Perspective to Think the Relation between Knowledge Construction and Cultural Management Development

Session Organizer
Margarita MAASS, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico, mmaass@labcomplex2.net

Session in English

Cultural management and sustainable development of communities since ethno-ecology, is one of the most important issues of social development. Because we have a high cultural diversity in Latin America countries, we need developing community work in order thinking challenges for a Global Sociology. It is necessary look for new ways to democracy and a more equal world. It is urgent developing the ability to solve problems institutions and third sector all together. We need strengthen links between our research groups and public actors.

We propose a work session on interdisciplinary knowledge and cultural management development since the systemic perspective. The most important objective of this session proposal is not only the dialogue and reflection around this issue but also an important opportunity to foster greater synergies between academics and public sphere in order to think the transdisciplinarity. The discussions and dialogues should provide the basis for collaborative and comparative research projects, in order to a “glocal” and a transformative change in our region.

Each of the papers accepted for presentation at the meeting will have an exposure and a subsequent discussion. The total time of 105 minutes will be distributed equally to each of the selected works.

 

Developments in Systems and/or Cybernetic Approaches: Asian and European and American Perspectives

Session Organizers
Eva BUCHINGER, Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria, eva.buchinger@ait.ac.at
Czeslaw MESJASZ, Cracow University of Economics, Poland, mesjaszc@uek.krakow.pl

Session in English

Sociocybernetics is a heterogeneous research field which benefits from the reciprocal influence of cybernetics, biology/neurobiology system sciences and the social system sciences over decades. Whereas the cybernetic dimension is linked to names such as N. Wiener, W. R. Ashby, C. E. Shannon, W. Weaver and H. v. Foerster and the biological/neurobiological dimension to L. v. Bertalanffy, F. Varela and H. Maturana, the social science response was given by scientists such as M. Mead, G. Bateson, G. Pask, T. Parsons, R. Merton, E. v. Glasersfeld and N. Luhmann.

It is thereby historically well known that system and cybernetic approaches do have a strong American basis, which itself is significantly rooted in the European tradition. But is this true even today? And what can be said about the Asian contribution to the historical and ongoing development of this field? Nowadays there exist a great number of system & cybernetic communities all over the world which are only loosely connected, even if some individuals function as ‘bridges’ between them and there exists professional global organizations such as the International Federation for Systems Research IFSR, or the World Organization of Systems and Cybernetics WOSC. The aim of these three complementary sessions is to learn which scholarly traditions concerning systems theory and/or cybernetics are existing and whether there can be found significantly different national/regional traditions or not.

For these sessions, abstracts/papers are welcome which present one’s work There are no further thematic or other constraints and theoretical as well as empirical, and history- related as well as contemporary contributions are welcome.

 

Gender Based Violence and Interpersonal Violence as a Complex Issue

Session Organizers
Manuel LISBOA, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, M.lisboa@fcsh.unl.pt
Dalila CEREJO, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, dalilacerejo@fcsh.unl.pt
Santiago BOIRA SARTO,Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain, sboira@unizar.es

Session in English

Contributions for this session should have a general approach to the gender based violence, but with the specific focus on the development of public policies and identifying the consequences of Violence. Sociocybernetic theoretical or already developed empirical sociocybernetic models are expected.

Since the successful or unsuccessful application of public policies has a major impact on the level the consequences of the perpetrated violence, contributions that reflect concern on the violence consequences, whether they refer to health consequences, social, economic, etc., are invited.

Questions to be addressed are, as it follows: Papers that have a mere theoretical and comprehensive approach on the thematic in question are also welcome.

 

Observing Social Systems in the Era of Big Data. Part I

Session Organizer
Fabio GIGLIETTO, University of Urbino, Italy, fabio.giglietto@uniurb.it
Co-organizers:
Bernard Scott, Center for Sociocybernetics Studies, United Kingdom
Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Jean Burgess, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Elena Esposito, University of Modena, Italy
Luca Rossi, University of Urbino, Italy
Giovanni Boccia Artieri, University of Urbino, Italy


Session in English

The idea of studying society as a system made up of different inter-related parts dates back to well before the 20th century; indeed, the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who defined society as a system with a metaphor regarding living organisms, first formulated it. Even without going back so far in time, it is clear that the idea of social systems and the use of the word itself developed with the emergence of sociology as a discipline.

In the light of the work of these authors, over the last seventy years, Talcott Parsons and Niklas Luhmann formulated their respective theories. The theory of social system developed by Parsons and that of social systems conceived by Luhmann, are commonly considered the most relevant applications of the principles of cybernetics, general systems theory and second order cybernetics to the study of society as a system or network of social systems.

On the opposite end of this ideal spectrum, where at one end we can see the macro-sociological approaches inspired by cybernetic theories, there are in fact all those studies based on the simulation of social subjects’ behaviour through informational techniques. These include agent-based simulations used not only in sociology, but also widely adopted in economic studies about consumer behavior. From a sociological point of view, multi-agent-based simulation models are even more interesting. In these models, agents’ behaviour is affected not only by the context in which they are placed, but also by the behaviour of other agents that can work with similar or different rules.

In this context, the advent of Internet has also had an impact. The availability of an inexpensive global communications network has had, and is still having, an extraordinary impact on numerous aspects of everyday life. It is not by chance that the metaphor of the network is considered a specific characteristic of contemporary society (Castells, 1996). The equal nature of this network has given rise, mainly following the extraordinary success of the so-called social media, to a phenomenon of progressive re-arrangement of the possibilities of communication and the power dynamics related to it (Jenkins, 2006). A condition of permanent connection has opened up new forms of reflexivity, both at the individual and societal level. According to a growing number of authors, this permanent relational reflexivity can be seen as a salient aspect of late/post-modernity (Boccia Artieri, 2012). However, the same study of society necessarily entails a reflexivity exercise, since research and study are an integral part of the subject under study. This is why we can reasonably expect that such significant changes in society will imply changes in the status of the discipline itself.

Furthermore, contemporary communications and social processes leave - both intentionally and unintentionally - a growing number of digital traces: personal communication shared in social network sites, family relationships declared on Facebook or political thoughts and opinions posted on Twitter are just the top of the iceberg of the data available to digital social researchers (Rossi, Giglietto, & Bennato, 2012).

The session seeks high quality, original and unpublished works on epistemological, theoretical and methodological issues concerning limits and potentials of approaches inspired by the idea that that social systems have never been more observable than they are today.

We therefore invite the submission of abstracts that: All abstracts will be evaluated in a standard double-blind peer review. Abstracts, individual or multi-author, 300 words maximum, should include:

 

Observing Social Systems in the Era of Big Data. Part II

Session Organizer
Fabio GIGLIETTO, University of Urbino, Italy, fabio.giglietto@uniurb.it
Co-organizers:
Bernard Scott, Center for Sociocybernetics Studies, United Kingdom
Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Jean Burgess, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Elena Esposito, University of Modena, Italy
Luca Rossi, University of Urbino, Italy
Giovanni Boccia Artieri, University of Urbino, Italy


 

Open Systems, Open Data, Open Government

Session Organizer
Chaime MARCUELLO SERVOS, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain, chaime@unizar.es

Session in English

This session attempts to explore, from a sociocybernetical approach, some of the effects of the open data movement, specially, its consequences in the idea of open government and open knowledge. Open data and open government could be analyzed in an independent way, however they are closely related to Information and Technologies of Communication (ICTs). In fact, both ideas will be more difficult to develop without computers and Internet.

There are different social organizations, firms and political actors promoting and lobbying around the idea of open data, open government and open knowledge in different countries. They are building architecture of definitions, processes and gadgets. At first glance, they have in common a shared utopia where technology seems to be the door to freedom and transparency and better democracy desired horizon.

In this session we will discuss the impact of ICTs and their effects in democratic systems. There is happening a strange coincidence in the political sphere: governments of very opposite ideologies are creating laws about transparency and opening up their data to the public and others developers and everybody connected to the web. At the same time, there are different organizations in a global civil society perspective lobbying in similar world of words, for instance, Open Data Foundation (ODaF), The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN), The Open Government Partnership inter alia.

We could define a triangle of forces and notions. First corner is the supposedly aseptic and neutral technological evolution and its applications. Second corner are political promises with varying degrees of ideological scenarios, including the social movements pushing to reach different utopias (therefore, no-where, unreachable). Third corner are the processes of social knowledge construction and social interaction. All of them are involved in a system of structures and elements were complexity of operations limit the choices of its actors. It is not clear that this “openness” enables a better and transparent circulation of information of any entity, and also it is unclear that transparency, openness and disclosure promote a better society without more, as if by magic.

In any case, ICTs evolution is modelling a new social and political scenario. Digital generations are moving our societies to a soft(ware) societies and the possibilities of accessing and building a global system based in global metadata standards is available. Technologists, scientists, business people, policymakers, social activist seems to converge in a same place where technology and transparency define a new “open future”. It seems to get a new good news, a vision: humans of over the world could live in a better world if ICTs and related tools allow to
  1. Discover the existence of data;
  2. Access the data for research and analysis;
  3. Find detailed information describing the data and its production processes;
  4. Access the data sources and collection instruments from which and with which the data was collected, compiled, and aggregated;
  5. Effectively communicate with the agencies involved in the production, storage, distribution of the data;
  6. Share knowledge with other users”.
However, applied technology is not simple and sure guarantee of that happens.

Papers selected will be presented and discussed during the session. The total time of 105 minutes will be equally distributed among the selected papers.

 

RC51 Business Meeting

Session Organizer


 

Recalibrating the Social

Session Organizer
Saburo AKAHORI, Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, Japan, akahori@lab.twcu.ac.jp

Session in English

Sociology is the discipline that takes “the social” as its particular object of inquiry. It more or less indicates an emergent property created from the interactions of human beings. Therefore, the term has been one of the most fundamental and most important concepts of sociology. Until now, however, it has been defined and understood in many different ways, for example, social action, social fact, and social network and so on. As for sociological systems theory, its main concern has been expressed under the label of “social” systems. Even this area of sociology, however, the meaning of the social has been ambiguous and debatable. Despite the fact that, in Niklas Luhmann’s sociological systems theory, the social is clearly defined as a system, which consists of communications or communicative events, it can be understood otherwise.

Adding that, recently, the concept of the social comes to be accepted in the broader society. It is because of the progress of informatization and the rise of so-called social media. Taking this point into account, we can safely say that, these days, the meanings and the characteristics of the social are changing rapidly and drastically. How can sociologists describe such phenomena properly and effectively? In this session, we would like to answer this question. More precisely, what we have to do now is to recalibrate the concept of the social and also “social” theories, by means of systems approach.

Based on the statement mentioned above, we will welcome contributions from anyone connected with the topics as follows:
  1. Theoretical studies of the current change of communication or communication media with the reference to the combination between sociology and systems theory (or cybernetics)
  2. Empirical studies of this issue with the reference to sociocybernetics
  3. Theoretical studies which deal with not only systems theory but also another sociological approach to this issue

 

Social Networks, Digital Generation and Democratization Processes

Session Organizer
Leandro ARAMBURU, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, leandroaramburu@gmail.com

Session in English

Nowadays, technological digital innovations are spread throughout the population over the world, challenging social conventions and even the law in many spheres of different social systems. This is thanks to the Internet, conceived as a technological sphere, which creates a network of networks where different software and applications build a new level of social interactions.

Diverse phenomena in different countries and cultures all over the world show some of these effects. The Arab Awakening or Arab Spring, the Spanish 15M Movement also named Indignados Movement, and the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) are partially linked to ICTs and its effects. These cases, like others, have had quick emergence and volatility. It seems that they are easily evaporated at normal ambience: some weeks present in mass media (including digital social networks) and then disappear. After some weeks living in a stunning fervor where emotions and ideas boil nonstop, they just volatilize without anybody knowing how, neither why. Several months later they remain only a few embers and ashes. They fail in ritualize their emotional energy to become a movement in the classical meaning. Nonetheless, they embody a new wave in the world of political representation and political identity.

In that context, if it is true that we are moving to a “soft(ware)” mediated imaginary, in our every day more globalized societies, that implies a transformation in the local and global political arena. Then we are entering into the soft societies where ideals and envisions are moving. Traditional citizenship is also mutating into “cyber-citizenship” with new tools and devices to facilitate political participation or its dark side of massive manipulation. Some activists and authors (Bauerlein & Jeffery, 2007) claim for a “Politics 2.0” following the new trend of 2.0 “paradigm”, where many times we find only smoke over a tension between freedom and social control. ICTs allow increasing the communication flow and, apparently, civil liberties (Sádaba & Gordo, 2008).

The aim of this session is to analyze how “new tools”, like Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, etc. influence and determine the configuration of the political arena, and its social consequences on the level of organizational interactions. A theoretical framework is building up in recent years.

In this session, the aim is to consider whether or not these transformations modify the political sphere. We expect papers exploring the understanding the different ways of social appropriation of “internet technologies” and with the goal to determine how powerful could be for the new way of being a “zoon politikon”.

Papers selected will be presented and discussed during the session. The total time of 105 minutes will be equally distributed among the selected papers.

 

Sociocybernetic Theories and Conceptualizations of Social Change and Transformations

Session Organizer
Karl-Heinz SIMON, University of Kassel, Germany, simon@cesr.de

Session in English

In several crucial policy areas – like climate change, sustainable development - there is a call for a “great transformation”, that is, a fundamental change of societal structures to bring up a future society better prepared for dealing with the recent problems. Such a future society could be envisioned as a society adapted to climate change, or one that reached a stage of development qualified as sustainable, guaranteeing a certain level of quality of life for world population as a whole.

No doubt, such a transformation implies big challenges and it is more than questionable under which conditions it could be successful.

Sociocybernetics could contribute to the analysis and design of such a transformation. There are
  1. theories of social change inspired by social systems theory. Especially the distinction of an actors’ perspective and a systems perspective, and their interactions but also their rivalries, is important here.
  2. Sociocybernetics could contribute to a better understanding of the “landscape” of involved actors and sub-systems of society. For example, what has to mentioned here is the differentiation of society into functional sub-systems and their specific rationalities. That differentiation has severe consequences for the addressees and the contents of transformation strategies and, possibly, has not given the role it deserves.
  3. And the very nature of transformations could be analyzed from a cybernetic viewpoint. Is the paradigm a mechanical one – all the elements in the transformation process are known and transition rules are more or less stable in the transformation process. Or is the paradigm influenced by constructivist ideas and the transformation has to be conceptualized as a “wicked problem” with a lot of unknown and changing elements in the sense of non-trivial transformations (as has been introduced by Dirk Baecker).
Therefore, the session is planned to intensify the dialogue between sociocybernetic thinking and practical problems and challenges in the context of the prominent transformation issue.

 

Sociocybernetics of Innovation: Drivers, Barriers and Stabilizers of Innovation in Different Theoretical Contexts

Session Organizers
Eva BUCHINGER, Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria, eva.buchinger@ait.ac.at
Czeslaw MESJASZ, Cracow University of Economics, Poland, mesjaszc@uek.krakow.pl

Session in English

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 . 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, J. Fleck, J. Mokyr), technological dynamics approaches (e.g. A. Rip, T. Misa, J. Schot, F. W. Geels, L. Leydesdorff, H. Etzkowitz), innovation systems approaches (e.g. C. Freeman, B.-A. Lundvall, C. Edquist, OECD) and open/distributed/network innovation approaches (e.g. E. v. Hippel, K. Pavitt, S. Breschi, F. Malerba, 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).

 

Special Sessions in Cooperation with the Japanese Systems Theory Societies. Part I: Dialogue on New Generation Systems Approach

Session Organizers
Saburo AKAHORI, Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, Japan, akahori@lab.twcu.ac.jp
Eva BUCHINGER, Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria, eva.buchinger@ait.ac.at
Hiroshi DEGUCHI, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, deguchi@dis.titech.ac.jp
Czeslaw MESJASZ, Cracow University of Economics, Poland, mesjaszc@uek.krakow.pl
Akira TOKUYASU, Hosei University, Japan, atokuyas@hosei.ac.jp
In cooperation with Japan Association for Social and Economic Systems Studies and Japanese Luhmann Forum

Session in English

Systems approach in social sciences is a well established research issue in the host country of the XVIII ISA World Congress. Nonetheless, the contact between RC51 and the Japanese systems theory societies was unfortunately very limited untill now. However, the host of the XVIII ISA World Congress opens up an opportunity for exchange and mutual learning, and we are going to have a dialogue with each other in cooperation with the Japan Association for Social and Economic Systems Studies (JASESS) and the Center for Agent-Based Social Systems Science (CABSSS) in two special sessions. JASESS is an interdisciplinary academic society established in 1982, which puts importance on systems approaches especially in social sciences and is a member of IFSR (International Federation for Systems Research) in common with RC51. CABSSS was established as a center under the support of Tokyo Institute of Technology in April, 2005 to develop the mission of the 21st century COE program “Creation of Agent-Based Social Systems Sciences". The aspired exchange and mutual learning is of course not limited to these two sessions and will hopefully take place in all the others sessions too.

In this session we invite Japanese scholars for contributions dealing with the upgrading of systems approaches in social sciences. However, this session is not only open to Japanese scholars, but also to researchers who are interested in this issue and in the dialogue with Japanese scholars.

 

Special Sessions in Cooperation with the Japanese Systems Theory Societies. Part II: Dialogue on Niklas Luhmann’s Sociological Systems Theory

Session Organizers
Saburo AKAHORI, Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, Japan, akahori@lab.twcu.ac.jp
Eva BUCHINGER, Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria, eva.buchinger@ait.ac.at
Hiroshi DEGUCHI, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, deguchi@dis.titech.ac.jp
Czeslaw MESJASZ, Cracow University of Economics, Poland, mesjaszc@uek.krakow.pl
Akira TOKUYASU, Hosei University, Japan, atokuyas@hosei.ac.jp
In cooperation with Japan Association for Social and Economic Systems Studies and Japanese

Session in English

In this session we invite Japanese scholars for contributions dealing with Niklas Luhmann’s theory. However this session is not only open to Japanese scholars, but also to researchers who are interested in this issue and in the dialogue with Japanese scholars.

 

Systems, Sociocybernetics and Interdisciplinary Issues. Part I

Session Organizer
Juan Carlos BARRON PASTOR, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico, juancho_barron@yahoo.com

 

Systems, Sociocybernetics and Interdisciplinary Issues. Part II

Session Organizer
Jose Antonio AMOZURRUTIA, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico, j.amoz@yahoo.com

 

The Management of Complex Organizations and Firms: A Sociocybernetic Challenge

Session Organizers
Bernd HORNUNG, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg, Germany, hornung@med.uni-marburg.de
John RAVEN, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg, Germany, jraven@ednet.co.uk

Session in English

The Problem
The contemporary world is characterized by a growing population, technical and organizational innovations at an ever increasing rate along with producing a host of new problems while making the coping with old ones often more difficult instead of solving them. This goes along with globalization producing with accelerating speed an increasingly complex world society. Organizations – business firms and other kinds of organizations - are confronted with socio-technical innovations in a highly dynamic environment in which, in addition, fundamental conflicts risk to escalate.

Nevertheless, these organizations need to be managed and sustained in this environment, at least for some time. It is complex because of the high number and variety of relations involved.

Management of an organization implies both sustaining and adjusting daily routine operations within a given (organizational) framework, and the (strategic) adaptation, i.e. structural change, of this very framework, in order to adapt both the framework and the routine operations it supports to changes in the environment.

The Purpose
In the face of the rapidly increasing difficulty of action and decision in such a complex and highly dynamic world on the one hand and in the face of the evident insufficiency of much public, non-public, policitical, and economic (organizational) decision-making on the other hand, a novel approach is required which goes beyond established theories (and practice) and implies possibly a novel view of management and control under the constraints of complexity. The latter is not an entity but a characteristic of systems, in particular social and socio-technical systems which are of primary interest here.

If there is any theoretical approach which might be suitable to meet this challenge, it is only system theory and cybernetics, including 1st and 2nd Order Cybernetics. After all, the so-called "Sciences of Complexity" are based on the paradigm of systems and cybernetics. In the real world, there is barely anything nowadays which is not dealt with as a system, even if this terminology (and the theory it represents) is not used or not even known to those who, however, act accordingly.

The session proposed is intended to collect and discuss papers which offer, on the basis of sociocybernetics, ideas, proposals, and steps towards such a novel approach. What we are looking for is not just new theory, but new ideas for management based on systems and cybernetics which can be applied in real-life organizations. Also we are not looking for cooking book recipes for managers, but for practical suggestions, abstract or concrete, thoroughly rooted in theory and the systems paradigm.

Papers Welcomed
Welcome are applied papers or empirical studies which analyze the conditions of complexity, under which organizations have to operate, which promise to be useful to design theories and strategies for operating, planning, and developing organizations under such conditions and constraints. Also welcome are theoretical papers which contribute to developing a new understanding of what management, planning, steering, and control might mean under conditions of complexity. This excludes theoretical papers on sociocybernetics or on complexity dealing with any other aspects.

 

The Sociocybernetics of “Cybernation” and the Emerging “Cyber-Nation”

Session Organizer
Bernard SCOTT, Centre for Sociocybernetics Studies Bonn, Germany, BernCES1@gmail.com

Session in English

Papers are invited which use sociocybernetic theoretical concepts and research methods to explore the phenomena associated with “cybernation” and the emerging concept of a global “cyber-nation”. The term “cybernation” refers to the existing and imminent cybernetic technologies of control and communication, data storage and retrieval, social media, user modelling and intelligent support for man-machine conversational interaction. The term “cyber-nation” refers to the emerging internet-based communities that promote social change and, explicitly or implicitly, practice forms of non-hierarchical (heterarchical) democracy. Well-known examples are Wikipedia, Avaaz and Change.org. A less well-known example is the Zeitgeist movement, that developed from the Venus Project, initiated by the late Jaques Fresco and Roxanne Meadows. Fresco coined the term “sociocyberneering”. There is a Facebook page dedicated to his work.

A well-known example of an hierarchical organisation that works towards social change through cybernation is Google. There are many other organisations that use the internet to promote their particular vision of global harmony and utopian futures.

Questions to be addressed in the session include: Papers with a strong empirical base are particularly welcome. Please also feel free to submit papers that are speculative and imaginative regarding possible future developments. It is expected that, as well as presentation of papers, the session will provide ample time for discussion.

 

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