Cybernetics Group: A Brief History of American Cybernetics

Cybernetics Group: A Brief History of American Cybernetics

The Cybernetics Group

Focusing on the Macy Foundation conferences, a series of encounters that captured a moment of transformation in the human sciences.

In this sequel to his acclaimed double biography, John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener, Steve Heims recounts another fascinating story in twentieth-century intellectual history – a series of encounters that captured a moment of transformation in the human sciences. Focusing on the Macy Foundation conferences, which were designed to forge connections between wartime science and postwar social science, Heims’s richly detailed account explores the dialogues that emerged among a remarkable group that included Wiener, von Neumann, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, Warren McCulloch, Kurt Lewin, Molly Harrower, and Lawrence Kubie. Heims shows how those dialogues shaped ideas in psychology, sociology, anthropology, and psychiatry.

 

Cybernetics

THE MACY CONFERENCES 1946-1953. THE COMPLETE TRANSACTIONS

Between 1946 and 1953, the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation sponsored a series of conferences aiming to bring together a diverse, interdisciplinary community of scholars and researchers who would join forces to lay the groundwork for the new science of cybernetics. These conferences, known as the Macy conferences, constituted a landmark for the field. They were the first to grapple with new terms such as information and feedback and to develop a cohesive and broadly applicable theory of systems that would become equally applicable to living beings and machines, economic and cognitive processes, and many scholarly disciplines. The concepts that emerged from the conferences come to permeate thinking in many fields, including biology, neurology, sociology, ecology, economics, politics, psychoanalysis, linguistics, and computer science.

This book contains the complete transcripts of all ten Macy conferences and the guidelines for the conference proceedings. These transcripts are supplemented with an introduction by Claus Pias that charts the significance of the Macy conferences to the history of science.

 

Macy Conferences Participants

A series of 10 focused meetings spanning 1942 to 1953 sponsored by the Josiah Macy Foundation, which brought together

  • John von Neumann
  • Norbert Wiener
  • Margaret Mead
  • Karl Lashley
  • Ross Ashby
  • Warren McCulloch
  • Walter Pitts
  • Arturo Rosenblueth
  • Claude Shannon
  • Heinz von Foerster
  • Rafael Lorente de No ́
  • R. Karl Pribram
  • Duncan Luce
  • Donald M. MacKay
  • Gregory Bateson
  • Kurt Lewin
  • Molly Harrower
  • Lawrence Kubie
  • Filmer S. C. Northrop
  • Lawrence K. Frank
  • Heinrich Kluver
  • Leonard J Savage
  • Ralph Girard and many others

 

Stuart A. Umpleby

A Short History of Cybernetics in the United States

The Origin of Cybernetics

Cybernetics as a field of scientific activity in the United States began in the years after World War II. Between 1946 and 1953 the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation sponsored a series of conferences in New York City on the subject of „Circular Causal and Feedback Mechanisms in Biological and Social Systems.“ The chair of the conferences was Warren McCulloch of MIT. Only the last five conferences were recorded in written proceedings. These have now been republished.1 After Norbert Wiener published his book Cybernetics in 1948,2 Heinz von Foerster suggested that the name of the conferences should be changed to „Cybernetics: Circular Causal and Feedback Mechanisms in Biological and Social Systems.“ In this way the meetings became known as the Macy Conferences on Cybernetics.

In subsequent years cybernetics influenced many academic fields – computer science, electrical engineering, artificial intelligence, robotics, management, family therapy, political science, sociology, biology, psychology, epistemology, music, etc. Cybernetics has been defined in many ways: as control and communication in animals, machines, and social systems; as a general theory of regulation; as the science or art of effective organization; as the art of constructing defensible metaphors, etc.3 The term ‚cybernetics‘ has been associated with many stimulating conferences, yet cybernetics has not thrived as an organized scientific field within American universities. Although a few cybernetics programs were established on U.S. campuses, these programs usually did not survive the retirement or death of their founders. Quite often transdisciplinary fields are perceived as threatening by established disciplines.

Relative to other academic societies the meetings on cybernetics tended to have more than the usual controversy, probably due to the wide variety of disciplines represented by the participants. Indeed Margaret Mead contributed an article,

Cybernetics of Cybernetics, to the proceedings of the first conference of the American Society for Cybernetics, in which she suggested that cyberneticians should apply their knowledge of communication to how they communicate with each other.4

Interpretations of Cybernetics

Not everyone originally connected with cybernetics continued to use the term. The original group of cyberneticians created approximately four research traditions.

  • The cybernetics of Alan Turing and John von Neumann became computer science, AI, and robotics. Turing5 formulated the concept of a Universal Turing Machine – a mathematical description of a computational device. He also devised the Turing test – a way of determining whether a computer program displays „artificial intelligence“.6 The related professional societies are the Association for Computing Machinery and the American Association for Artificial Intelligence.
  • Norbert Wiener’s cybernetics became part of electrical engineering. This branch of cybernetics includes control mechanisms, from thermostats to automated assembly lines. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, including the Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society, is the main professional society. The principal concern is systems engineering.
  • Warren McCulloch’s cybernetics became „second order cybernetics“. McCulloch chaired the Macy Foundation conferences. He sought to understand the functioning of the nervous system and thereby the operation of the brain and the mind. The American Society for Cybernetics has continued this tradition.
  • Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead pursued research in the social sciences, particularly anthropology, psychology, and family therapy. Work on the cybernetics of social systems is being continued in the American Society for Cybernetics and the Socio-Cybernetics Group within the International Sociological Association.

Other groups can also be identified. For example, a control systems group within psychology was generated by the work of William Powers.7 Biofeedback or neuro- feedback is a subject of investigation by some researchers in medicine and psycho- logy. The Santa Fe Institute has developed simulation methods based on the ideas of self-organizing systems and cellular automata.8 Some members of the International Society for the Systems Sciences have an interest in management cybernetics.

This paper recounts about sixty years of the history of cybernetics in the United States, divided into five year intervals. The emphasis will be on the third and fourth groups, McCulloch’s cybernetics and social cybernetics.

Early 1940s

In 1943 two landmark papers were published. Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts wrote, A Logical Calculus of the Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity.9 This article sought to understand how a network of neurons functions so that we experience what we call „an idea.“ They presented their explanation in mathematical form.

Arthuro Rosenblueth, Norbert Wiener and Julian Bigelow published Behavior, Purpose, Teleology.10 They observed behavior, which they interpreted as purposeful, and then sought to explain how this phenomenon could happen without teleology, using only Aristotle’s efficient cause. Also in the early 1940s Wiener worked on a radar-guided anti-aircraft gun.

Late 1940s

In the late 1940s the early Macy Conferences were held in New York City.11 They were attended by scientists including Norbert Wiener, Julian Bigelow, John von Neumann, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, Ross Ashby, Grey Walter, and Heinz von Foerster. By 1949 three key books were published: Von Neumann’s and Morgenstern’s Theory of Games and Economic Behavior,12 Wiener’s (1948) Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine,13 and Shannon’s and Weaver’s (1949) The Mathematical Theory of Communication.14 These books defined a new science of information and regulation.

Early 1950s

In the early 1950s more Macy conferences took place. This time proceedings were published with Heinz von Foerster as editor. Meanwhile the first commercial com- puters were manufactured.

Late 1950s

In the 1950s the CIA was concerned about the possibility of brain-washing and mind control. Under the code name MKUltra experiments with LSD and other drugs were conducted at Harvard University and elsewhere.15 Some of the money for this research was channeled through the Macy Foundation. In one incident, a CIA employee was given LSD without his knowledge. Apparently he thought he was going mad and jumped out a window of a hotel in New York City. Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, when he was a student at Harvard, was an experimental subject of these mind control experiments.16

Early checkers-playing programs were written and raised the possibility of artifi- cial intelligence.17 In 1956 at a conference at Dartmouth University people interested in studying the brain and people interested in creating computer programs parted ways. Neurophysiologists valued work that illuminated the nature of cognition. Engineers valued work that led to useful machines. Thereafter the people interested in cybernetics and those interested in artificial intelligence had little interaction.

Following a sabbatical year working with Arthuro Rosenblueth and Warren McCulloch, Heinz von Foerster founded the Biological Computer Laboratory (BCL) at the University of Illinois in 1958. During the 1960s and early 1970s BCL was the leading center for cybernetics research in the U.S. Frequent visitors were Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela, Gordon Pask, and Lars Loefgren. Graduates included Klaus Krippendorff, Alfred Inselberg, Crayton Walker, Roger Conant, and Stuart Umpleby.  During the same period the Mental Health Research Institute (MHRI) at the University of Michigan was the leading center for general systems research in the U.S. The founding director of MHRI was James G. Miller. Other systems scientists at MHRI were Kenneth E. Boulding, Anatol Rapoport, Richard L. Meier, and John R. Platt.

Early 1960s

In the early 1960s several conferences on self-organizing systems were held.18 One of these conferences was held in 1961 at the University of Illinois’s Allerton Park.19 As a result of an invitation made at this conference, Ross Ashby moved from England to Illinois. The work on self-organizing systems was a forerunner to the field of study now called ‚complexity‘ or ‚complex systems‘.

Although the Macy Foundation Conferences ended in 1953, the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) was not founded until 1964. This seems rather late. Actually the ASC was founded not so much to continue the work of the Macy conferences but rather as a result of the Cold War.20 During the Presidential campaign in 1960, when John F. Kennedy was elected, there was talk about a „missile gap“ between the United States and the Soviet Union. Not long thereafter there began to be talk about a „cybernetics gap.“ Some people in the Soviet Union thought cybernetics would provide the theory they needed to operate their centrally planned economy.

Consequently, the Soviet government generously funded cybernetics research. Some people in the U.S. government then feared that the U.S. might fall behind in a criti- cal area of research, if this country did not also fund cybernetics research.

In Washington, DC, a cybernetics luncheon club was meeting. The participants included Paul Henshaw, Atomic Energy Commission; Carl Hammer, Univac; Jack Ford, CIA; Douglas Knight, IBM; Walter Munster; Bill Moore, lawyer. This group founded the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC). The founding ceremony was held at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC. A grant from the National Science Foundation helped the Society to establish the Journal of Cybernetics. A conference on the social impact of cybernetics was held at Georgetown University in 1964.21 The first conference arranged by the ASC was held in 1967 at the National Bureau of Standards in Gaithersburg, MD.22

Late 1960s

Social movements in the United States – against the Viet Nam war and for civil rights, women’s rights, and environmental protection – produced a time of student activism on campuses. In terms of research it was a productive period for the Bio- logical Computer Laboratory (BCL) at the University of Illinois.23

Early 1970s

At a meeting of the American Society for Cybernetics in 1974 in Philadelphia, Heinz von Foerster introduced the term „second order cybernetics.“24 The Mansfield Amendment, which was an attempt to reduce campus unrest caused by the Viet Nam War, cut off government funds for research that was not related to a military mission, including research at BCL.25

There was an argument between the officers of ASC and the publisher of the Journal of Cybernetics. The dispute was submitted to arbitration, and the publisher won. Thereafter the journal continued to be published, but without ASC involvement. The journal published articles primarily in engineering. However, the field of cybernetics was increasingly emphasizing biology and the social sciences.

Late 1970s

Heinz von Foerster retired from the University of Illinois in 1976 and moved to California. There he communicated with Paul Watzlawick, John Weakland and others at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto. During this time second order cybernetics or constructivist epistemology had a significant impact on the field of family therapy.26

In the late 1970s no meetings of the American Society for Cybernetics were held. The people connected with BCL attended meetings of the Society for General Systems Research, which a few years later changed its name to the International Society for the Systems Sciences.

For a few years, due to a conflict among the ASC officers in Washington, DC, there was a rival organization, the American Cybernetics Association (ACA), based in Philadelphia. The two organizations came back together a few years later through the efforts of Barry Clemson, Doreen Steg, Klaus Krippendorff and others. The reorganized society used the ASC name and the ACA by-laws. But the society remained small, usually having fewer than 400 members.

Stuart Umpleby, who received his PhD from the University of Illinois in 1975 and moved to The George Washington University in Washington, DC, received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for an Electronic Information Exchange for Small Research Communities. The BCL group moved into cyberspace.27 This group, discussing General Systems Theory, was one of nine academic groups using the Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES) at New Jersey Institute of Technology. For three years in the late 1970s cyberneticians and systems scientists across the United States and a few in Europe communicated with each other using email and computer conferencing via dumb terminals and, initially, 300 baud modems. The long distance telephone charges were paid by the NSF grant. When the grant ran out, there was disappointment that universities would not pay the communications charges. Indeed, it took almost fifteen years before costs declined sufficiently to permit regular email communication among academics.

Early 1980s

As a result of being the moderator of the on-line discussion group, Umpleby was elected president of ASC. A planning conference in 1980 charted a new direction for the Society.28 ASC began organizing conferences again and reestablished connec- tions with its former journal, now called Cybernetics and Systems.

A series of meetings with Soviet scientists was started as a way to bring leading American scientists together to review fundamentals, in particular to discuss second order cybernetics.29 The meetings were funded by the American Council of Learned Societies and the Soviet Academy of Sciences. These meetings were quite productive for exchanging views; however, a controversy with the Soviet side arose over the participation of Vladimir Lefebvre, a Soviet émigré. Prior to glasnost and perestro- ika Lefebvre’s theory30 of two systems of ethical cognition was not accepted by the Soviet government. However, during the break up of the USSR Lefebvre’s work was used by people at the highest levels of government in both the United States and the Soviet Union to prevent miscommunication.31

Lefebvre’s work is being further developed through annual conferences organized by Vladimir Lepsky in the Insti- tute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Lefebvre’s theory of reflexive control is being used by psychologists and educators to help with the psychological and cultural difficulties involved in the social, political, and economic transition in Russia.32

Late 1980s

Members of the American Society for Cybernetics began offering tutorials on first and second order cybernetics prior to systems conferences (see Table 1). They were seeking to make a scientific revolution.33 At a conference in St. Gallen, Switzerland, in 1987 the members of the American Society for Cybernetics decided to focus their attention almost exclusively on advancing second order cybernetics.34 The focus on second order cybernetics to the exclusion of other interpretations of cybernetics had the effect of reducing the membership of the ASC to about one hundred mem- bers. However, there was strong interest in second order cybernetics in Europe.35

 

Table 1. Definitions of First and Second Order Cybernetics

Author

First Order Cybernetics

Second Order Cybernetics

von Foerster

The cybernetics of observed systems

The cybernetics of observing system

Pask

The purpose of a model

The purpose of modeler

Varela

Controlled systems

Autonomous systems

Umpleby

Interaction among the vari- ables in a system

Interaction between observer and observed

Umpleby

Theories of social systems

Theories of the interaction between ideas and society

The second Soviet-American conference was held in Tallinn, Estonia, in 1988. Due to glasnost and perestroika the original topics (epistemology, methodology, and management) were expanded to include large-scale social experiments.

 

Early 1990s

In 1990 two symposia on Theories to Guide the Reform of Socialist Societies were held in Washington, DC, and Vienna, Austria.36 These meetings were the beginning of a multi-year effort both to understand the changes occurring in the former Soviet Union from the perspective of social theory and to use knowledge of social systems to guide the transitions.

The work on second order cybernetics was also changing. The members of the ASC had worked almost twenty years on developing and promoting the point of view known as second order cybernetics or constructivism. Some people wanted to move from a period of revolutionary science to a new period of normal science.37 One way to understand the change is to say that the period of engineering cyberne- tics lasted from the mid 1940s to the mid 1970s. The period of biological cybernetics or second order cybernetics lasted from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s. And the period of social cybernetics began in the mid 1990s (see Table 2).

Late 1990s

Symposia on the transitions in the former Soviet Union continued to be held as part of the European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research. These meetings are held every two years in Vienna, Austria. The symposia bring together scientists from East and West.

In Washington, DC, a series of meetings on the Year 2000 Computer Problem were held with the support of The Washington Post. These meetings were based on the idea that „y2k“ could be regarded as an experiment which would reveal the amount of interconnectedness in our increasingly cybernetic society.38

Niklas Luhmann’s writings in sociology introduced ideas such as constructivism and autopoiesis to social scientists in Europe.39 A Socio-Cybernetics Working Group within the International Sociological Association was established by Felix Geyer and others.

Early 2000s

In the early years of the 21st century large conferences on informatics and cyber- netics were organized by Nagib Callaos and his colleagues in Orlando, FL. One result has been organizing efforts in Latin America stimulated by the conferences in Orlando. Annual conferences on reflexive control began to be held in Moscow

 

Table 2. Three Versions of Cybernetics

Engineering Cybernetics

Biological Cybernetics

Social Cybernetics

The view
of epistemo­ logy

A realist view of epistemology: knowledge is a „picture“ of reality

A biological view of epistemology: how the brain func­ tions

A pragmatic view of epistemology: knowledge is con­ structed to achieve human purposes

A key distinction

Reality vs. Scientific Theories

Realism vs. Constructivism

The biology of cognition vs. the observer as a social participant

The puzzle to be solved

Construct theories which explain ob­ served phenomena

Include the ob­ server within the domain of science

Explain the rela­ tionship between the natural and the social sciences

What must be explained

How the world works

How an individual constructs a „real­ ity“

How people cre­ ate, maintain, and change social sys­ tems through lan­ guage and ideas

A key as­ sumption

Natural processes can be explained by scientific theo­ ries

Ideas about knowl­ edge should be rooted in neuro­ physiology

Ideas are accepted if they serve the observer’s pur­ poses as a social participant

An impor­ tant conse­ quence

Scientific know- ledge can be used to modify natural processes to benefitpeople

If people accept constructivism, they will be more tolerant

By transforming conceptual systems (through persua­ sion, not coercion), we can change society

and may lead to the founding of a Russian Association in the field of cybernetics and systems.

In the International Society for the Systems Sciences there is growing interest in group facilitation and participation methods.40 An increasing number of books about cybernetics appear, frequently by German authors.41 A Heinz von Foerster

Society was established in Vienna to further develop the ideas explored at the Bio- logical Computer Laboratory. A new biography of Norbert Wiener was published which explains the break that occurred between Wiener and McCulloch.42

The „global university system“ created by the Internet and the Bologna process is not only greatly facilitating communication among scientists around the world but is also leading to a new metaphor for the social implications of cybernetics, an alternative metaphor to the „global brain.“43

Questions about the History of Cybernetics

Given the promising and exciting beginnings of cybernetics, the outstanding sci- entists involved, and the subsequent impact of cybernetics on many disciplines, it is curious that the term ‚cybernetics‘ is not widely known or used today, even though most professional people spend several hours a day in cyberspace. Margaret Mead commented on the development of cybernetics at the first ASC conference in 1968:

„We were impressed by the potential usefulness of a language sufficiently sophisticated to be used to solve complex human problems, and sufficiently abstract to make it possible to cross disciplinary boundaries. We thought we would go on to real interdisciplinary research, using this language as a medium. Instead, the whole thing fragmented. Norbert Wiener wrote his book Cybernetics. It fascinated intellectuals and it looked for a while as if the ideas that he expressed would become a way of thought. But they didn’t.“44

Why did the cybernetics movement break up following the Macy Conferences? Perhaps it never came together. People stayed in their home disciplines. Many very thought-provoking meetings were held under the label of cybernetics, but the educational programs that were established did not survive in discipline-oriented universities. When their founders retired, the programs were closed. One conse- quence of the lack of educational programs at universities is that key ideas tend to be reinvented. One example is the work on complex systems centered at the Santa Fe Institute. These writers rarely refer to the work in cybernetics and systems theory.

What prevented unity? There was never agreement on fundamentals. Eric Dent in his doctoral dissertation at The George Washington University provides an explanation of the continuing heterogeneity of the field of cybernetics and systems science.45 Dent claims that after World War II the systems sciences dramatically expanded the scientific enterprise. Specifically, science expanded along eight dimen- sions: causality, determinism, relationships, holism, environment, self-organization, reflexivity, and observation.46 However, not all of the various systems fields chose to emphasize the same dimensions. Indeed, each field chose a unique combination. This meant that the various systems fields did not agree on what the key issues were. As a result each subfield developed its own language, theories, methods, traditions, and results.

These eight dimensions have both united and divided the systems sciences. The dimensions unite the systems sciences because each of the subfields of systems sci- ence uses at least one of the new assumptions, whereas classical science uses none. The dimensions divide the systems sciences because each subfield emphasizes a different dimension or set of dimensions. Hence, issues that are very important in one subfield are less important or do not arise in other subfields. Given different questions, the answers in theories and methods have been different.47 Perhaps in the 21st century the progress made in developing the field of cybernetics in many disciplines will be successfully integrated.

Notes

1  Claus Pias, ed., Cybernetics – Kybernetik: The Macy Conferences 1946–1953, Zürich and Berlin 2004.

2  Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, Cambridge, MA 1948.

3  Larry Richards, Defining ‚Cybernetics‘ (1987), http://www.asc-cybernetics.org/foundations/definitions.htm.

4  Margaret Mead, Cybernetics of Cybernetics, in: Heinz von Foerster et al., eds., Purposive Systems, New York 1968.

5  Alan Turing, On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, in: Pro- ceedings of the London Mathematical Society 42/2 (1936), 230–265. Reprinted in Martin Davis, ed., The Undecidable, New York 1965.

6  Alan Turing, Computing Machinery and Intelligence, in: Mind 59 (1950), 433–460.

7  William Powers, Behavior: the Control of Perception, New York 1973.

8  M. Mitchell Waldrop, Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos, New York 1992.

9  Warren S. McCulloch and Walter Pitts, A Logical Calculus of the Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity, in: Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics 5 (1943), 115–133; reprinted in Warren S. McCulloch, Embodiments of Mind, Cambridge, MA, 1965, 19–39.

10  Arturo Rosenblueth, Norbert Wiener and Julian Bigelow, Behavior, Purpose and Teleology, in: Philosophy of Science 10 (1943), 18–24; reprinted in W. Buckley, ed., Modern Systems Research for the Behavioral Scientist, Chicago 1968, 221–225.

11  Steve J. Heims, The Cybernetics Group, Cambridge, MA 1991.

12  John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern, Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, Princeton, NJ 1944.

13  Wiener, Cybernetics.

14  Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication, Urbana, Ill. 1949.

15  John Marks, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, New York 1978.

16  Alston Chase, Harvard and the Unabomber: The Education of an American Terrorist, New York 2003.

17  Arthur Samuel, Some Studies in Machine Learning Using the Game of Checkers in: IBM Journal 3/3 (1959), 210–229.

18  Marshall Yovits and Scott Cameron, eds., Self-Organizing Systems, London 1960; Marshall Yovits, George Jacobi, Gordon Goldstein, eds., Self-Organizing Systems – 1962, Washington 1962.

19  Heinz von Foerster and George W. Zopf Jr., eds., Principles of Self-Organization, New York 1962.

20  Charles Richard Dechert, ed., The Social Impact of Cybernetics, New York 1966.

21  Ibid.

22  Heinz von Foerster et al., eds., Purposive Systems, New York 1968.

23  Albert Müller and Karl H. Müller, eds., An Unfinished Revolution? Heinz von Foerster and the Bio- logical Computer Laboratory, 1958–1976, Wien 2007.

24  Heinz von Foerster, Cybernetics of Cybernetics, in: Klaus Krippendorff, ed., Communication and Control in Society, New York 1979.

25  Stuart Umpleby, Heinz von Foerster and the Mansfield Amendment, in: Cybernetics and Human Knowing 10 (2003), No. 3–4.

26  Paul Watzlawick, The Invented Reality: How do we Know what we Believe we Know? Contributions to Constructivism, New York 1984.

27  Stuart Umpleby, Computer Conference on General Systems Theory: One Year’s Experience, in: M. Henderson and M. MacNaughton, eds., Electronic Communication: Technology and Impacts, Boul- der, CO 1979; Stuart Umpleby and K. Thomas, Applying Systems Theory to the Conduct of Systems Research, in: Anthony Debons ed., Information Science in Action: System Design, vol. l, The Hague 1983.

28  Stuart Umpleby, The 1980 Planning Conference of the American Society for Cybernetics, in: Cyber- netics Forum 10/1 (1981).

29  Stuart Umpleby, American and Soviet Discussions of the Foundations of Cybernetics and General Systems Theory, in: Cybernetics and Systems 18 (1987); Stuart Umpleby and Vadim Sadovsky, eds., A Science of Goal Formulation: American and Soviet Discussions of Cybernetics and Systems Theory, New York 1991.

30  Vladimir A. Lefebvre, Algebra of Conscience: A Comparative Analysis of Western and Soviet Ethical Systems, London 1982.

31  Stuart Umpleby, A Preliminary Inventory of Theories Available to Guide the Reform of Socialist Societies, in: Stuart Umpleby and Robert Trappl, eds., Cybernetics and Systems 22/4 (1991).

32  Stuart Umpleby and Tatyana A. Medvedeva, Psychological Adjustment to Economic and Social Change, in: Reflexive Control 1/1 (2001), 102–112.

33  Stuart Umpleby, On Making a Scientific Revolution, in: Heinz von Foerster, ed., Cybernetics of Cy- bernetics, Urbana 1974; reprinted in 1995, Minneapolis: Future Systems.

34  Stuart Umpleby, Three Conceptions of Conversation, in: Continuing the Conversation: A Newsletter of Ideas in Cybernetics, No. 10, 1987.

35  Stuart Umpleby, Cybernetics of Conceptual Systems, in: Cybernetics and Systems 28/8 (1997), 635– 652.

36  Umpleby, Inventory.

37  Stuart Umpleby, The Science of Cybernetics and the Cybernetics of Science, in: Cybernetics and Systems 21/1 (1990).

38  Stuart Umpleby, Coping with an Error in a Knowledge Society: The Case of the Year 2000 Computer Crisis, in: George E. Lasker et al., eds., Advances in Sociocybernetics and Human Development VIII, Windsor, Canada 2000.

39  Niklas Luhmann, Social Systems. Stanford, CA 1995.

40  Ken Bausch, ed., Special Issue on Agoras of the Global Village, World Futures, 6/1–2 (2004).

41  Müller and Müller, Revolution.

42  Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, Dark Hero of the Information Age: In Search of Norbert Wiener, the Father of Cybernetics, New York 2005.

43  Stuart Umpleby, Strengthening the Global University System, in: R. Meyer, ed., Perspectives in Higher Education Reform, vol. 12, Alliance of Universities for Democracy, American University in Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria 2003.

44  Mead, Cybernetics.

45  Eric B. Dent, The Design, Development, and Evaluation of Measures to Survey Worldview in Orga- nizations. Ann Arbor, MI University Microfilms 1996

46  Eric B. Dent, System Science Traditions: Differing Philosophical Assumptions, in: Systems, Journal of the Polish Systems Society 6 (2001), No. 1–2.

47  Stuart Umpleby and Eric B. Dent, The Origins and Purposes of Several Traditions in Systems Theory and Cybernetics, in: Cybernetics and Systems 30 (1999).

 

 

 

 

Please see my related posts

Systems and Organizational Cybernetics

Feedback Thought in Economics and Finance

Reflexivity, Recursion, and Self Reference

Autocatalysis, Autopoiesis and Relational Biology

Socio-Cybernetics and Constructivist Approaches

Cybernetics, Autopoiesis, and Social Systems Theory

Ratio Club: A Brief History of British Cyberneticians

Second Order Cybernetics of Heinz Von Foerster

Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Recursive Vision of Gregory Bateson

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

 

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

 

Whatever Happened to Cybernetics

Kevin Kelly in his book Out of Control

https://kk.org/mt-files/outofcontrol/ch23-a.html

The Cybernetics Group

Steve Heims

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/cybernetics-group

Constructing a Social Science for Postwar America

The Cybernetics Group, 1946–1953

By Steve Joshua Heims

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/constructing-social-science-postwar-america

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/396a/f617fb699b71d3a7ecb44c5a8a39d7c69d31.pdf?_ga=2.252779531.343517398.1572734637-1265037359.1572734637

 

John Von Neumann and Norbert Weiner

From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death

Steve Heims

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/john-von-neumann-and-norbert-weiner

Cybernetics

THE MACY CONFERENCES 1946-1953. THE COMPLETE TRANSACTIONS

EDITED BY CLAUS PIAS

 

https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/C/bo23348570.html

 

 

 

Do Cyborgs Dream of Electronic Rats? The Macy Conferences and the Emergence of Hybrid Multi-Agent Systems

 

Samuel Gerald Collins

 

Click to access FS07-04-005.pdf

 

 

Macy conferences

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macy_conferences

 

 

Cybernetics

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybernetics

History of Cybernetics

American Society of Cybernetics

http://www.asc-cybernetics.org/foundations/history.htm

 

History of Cybernetics and Systems Science

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/CYBSHIST.html

 

 

HISTORY OF CYBERNETICS
Additional Reference Resources

http://www.asc-cybernetics.org/foundations/historyrefs.htm

The Macy Story

https://macyfoundation.org/news-and-commentary/the-macy-story

 

 

The Next Macy Conference: A New Interdisciplinary Synthesis [Keynote]

September 2015

Andrew Pickering

 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281896821_The_Next_Macy_Conference_A_New_Interdisciplinary_Synthesis_Keynote

 

 

A Brief History of (Second-Order) Cybernetics

Louis Kauffman
Stuart Umpleby

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319751991_A_Brief_History_of_Second-Order_Cybernetics

 

 

A Short History of Cybernetics in the United States

The Origin of Cybernetics

 

Stuart Umpleby

 

Click to access 4566_oezg4_08_s28_40_umpleby_1_.pdf

 

 

 

Analog, digital, and the cybernetic illusion

Claus Pias

 

Click to access kybernetes.pdf

 

 

 

 

GREGORY BATESON, CYBERNETICS, AND THE SOCIAL/BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES

 

Click to access gbcatsbs.pdf

 

 

Cybernetics: A General Theory that Includes Command and Control

Stuart Umpleby

 

Click to access 076.pdf

 

The Future of Cybernetics

Click to access Pangaro-Nano-2018.pdf

 

 

John Bowlby: Rediscovering a systems scientist

Gary S. Metcalf, PhD

January 7, 2010

 

Click to access John_Bowlby_-_Rediscovering_a_systems_scientist.pdf

 

 

REBEL GENIUS: WARREN MCCULLOCH’S TRANSDISCIPLINARY LIFE IN SCIENCE

By Tara H. Abraham

2016 MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, USA

ISBN: 9780262035095

 

Click to access The%20prophet%20who%20foretold%20our%20future%202018-4523.pdf

 

 

 

Where are the Cyborgs in Cybernetics?

Ronald Kline

 

Click to access Where-are-the-Cyborgs-in-Cybernetics-Kline.pdf

 

 

SECOND ORDER CYBERNETICS

Ranulph Glanville

 

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.645.9031&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

 

The Road to Servomechanisms: The Influence of Cybernetics on Hayek

from The Sensory Order to the Social Order

Gabriel Oliva

 

Click to access The%20Road%20to%20Servomechanisms.pdf

 

 

Cybernetics Revolutinaries

Click to access Eden_Medina_Cybernetic_Revolutionaries.pdf

 

 

 

CYBERNETICS AND THE MANGLE: ASHBY, BEER AND PASK*

Andrew Pickering

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.15.882&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

 

 

 

Cybernetics Page at Monoskop.org

https://monoskop.org/Cybernetics

 

 

 

The Cybernetics Brain

Andrew Pickering

 

 

 

HISTORY OF CYBERNETICS

R. Vallée

Université Paris-Nord, France

 

Click to access E6-46-03-01.pdf

Second Order Cybernetics of Heinz Von Foerster

Second Order Cybernetics of Heinz Von Foerster

 

Key Terms and People

  • Cybernetics
  • Second Order Cybernetics
  • Heinz Von Foerster
  • Reflexivity
  • Circular, Causal, Feedback mechanisms
  • Recursive processes
  • Purpose
  • Control
  • Communication
  • Stuart Umpleby
  • Bernard Scott
  • Klaus Krippendorff
  • Ranulph Glanville
  • Anthony Hodgson
  • Albert Müller
  • Francis Heylighen

 

Second‐order Cybernetics: An Historical Introduction

In 1974, Heinz von Foerster articulated the distinction between a first- and second-order cybernetics, as, respectively, the cybernetics of observed systems and the cybernetics of observing systems. Von Foerster’s distinction, together with his own work on the epistemology of the observer, has been enormously influential on the work of a later generation of cyberneticians. It has provided an architecture for the discipline of cybernetics, one that, in true cybernetic spirit, provides order where previously there was variety and disorder. It has provided a foundation for the research programme that is second-order cybernetics. However, as von Foerster himself makes clear, the distinction he articulated was imminent right from the outset in the thinking of the early cyberneticians, before, even, the name of their discipline had been coined. In this paper, the author gives a brief account of the developments in cybernetics that lead to von Foerster’s making his distinction. As is the way of such narratives, it is but one perspective on a complex series of events. Not only is this account a personal perspective, it also includes some recollections of events that were observed and participated in at first hand.

 

 

 

Key Sources of Research

 

Understanding Understanding

Heinz Von Foerster

Click to access Heinz_Von_Foerster-Understanding_Understanding.pdf

 

 

 

The Paradoxy of Observing Systems

Niklas Luhmann

Click to access 3.10%20the-paradox-of-observing-systems_luhmann.pdf

 

 

 

Observing Systems: a Cybernetic Perspective on System/Environment Relations

RAF VANDERSTRAETEN

Click to access 1133.pdf

 

 

 

Second‐order Cybernetics: An Historical Introduction

Bernard Scott

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235251005_Second-order_Cybernetics_An_Historical_Introduction

 

Cybernetics’s Reflexive Turns

Klaus Krippendorff

 

https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1135&context=asc_papers

 

 

SECOND ORDER CYBERNETICS

Ranulph Glanville

 

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.645.9031&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Inventing Systems

Spring Quarter 2006

Jeff Glassman/Arun Chandra

 

Click to access readings.pdf

 

 

 

The New Science of Cybernetics: A Primer

Click to access iSA027MG.pdf

 

 

 

Boundary Disputes: Homeostasis, Reflexivity, and the Foundations of Cybernetics

N. Katherine Hayles

Click to access Hayles_Boundary_Disputes.pdf

Second-Order Science and New Cybernetics

https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-319-06091-0_15-1

 

 

 

Fundamentals and History of Cybernetics 1

Stuart A. Umpleby

The George Washington University Washington, DC http://www.gwu.edu/~umpleby

 

A tutorial presented at the

World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics

Orlando, Florida July 16, 2006

 

Click to access videosufh-slides.pdf

 

 

 

􏰷􏰾􏱁 The Evolution of Organizational Cybernetics􏱁􏱂􏰍􏱃􏰽􏰷􏰭􏰍􏱀 􏰍􏰸 􏰍􏰼􏰯􏰦􏱀􏰭􏱄􏰦􏰷􏰭􏰍􏱀􏰦􏱃 􏰔􏱅􏰹􏱁􏰼􏱀􏱁􏰷􏰭􏰔􏰀

􏰇􏰆􏰚􏰜􏰑􏰐 􏰀􏰁􏰈􏰙􏰆􏰄􏰂􏰄􏰪􏰃􏰚 􏰼􏰃􏰁􏰃􏰂􏰬􏰃􏰛 􏰦􏰋􏰚􏰂􏰎 􏰟􏰵􏰏 􏰟􏰠􏰠􏰡

Click to access 2006-78.pdf

 

 

 

DECISION INTEGRITY AND SECOND ORDER CYBERNETICS

 

Anthony Hodgson

Decision Integrity Limited International Futures Forum United Kingdom

 

http://www.decisionintegrity.co.uk/DIL%20Decision%20&%202nd%20Order%20Cybernetics%20-%20Hodgson.pdf 

Heinz Forester and the Second Order Cybernetics

Jeffrey Goldstein

 https://journal.emergentpublications.com/article/heinz-von-foerster-and-the-second-order-cybernetics/pdf/

Cybernetics and the Theory of Knowledge

 

http://www.vonglasersfeld.com/255

 

 

The Cybernetics of Design and the Design of Cybernetics

Klaus Krippendorff

Gregory Bateson Term Professor for Cybernetics, Language, and Culture The Annenberg School for Communication

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia kkrippendorff@asc.upenn.edu

 

Click to access Krippendorf_cyber_design.pdf

 

 

RECONSIDERING CYBERNETICS

UMPLEBY STUART

 

Click to access dbasse_176892.pdf

 

 

A Brief History of the BCL. Heinz von Foerster and the Biological Computer Laboratory

Albert Müller

 

Click to access BriefHistBCL.pdf

 

Resources on Cybernetics

https://cyberneticians.com/index.html

 

 

Heinz von Foerster

 

Click to access glanville.pdf

 

 

 

Try again. Fail again. Fail better: the cybernetics in design and the design in cybernetics

Ranulph Glanville

 

Click to access C%20and%20D%20paper%200670360902.pdf

 

 

 

Cybernetics and Second-Order Cybernetics

Francis Heylighen

Free University of Brussels

Cliff Joslyn Los Alamos National Laboratory

 

Click to access Cybernetics-EPST.pdf

 

 

Heinz von Foerster’s Demons
The Emergence of Second-Order Systems Theory

Bruce Clarke

 

Click to access Clarke-selfreference.pdf

 

 

Introduction

Neocybernetic Emergence

bruce clarke and mark b. n. hansen

 

Click to access clarke-e-hansen-neocybernetic-emergence.pdf

 

Cybernetics of Cybernetics

HEINZ VON FOERSTER

University of Illinois, Urbana

1979

Click to access foerster_cybernetics%20of%20cybernetics.pdf

 

 

 

Second-Order Science and Policy

Anthony Hodgson & Graham Leicester

 

https://philarchive.org/archive/HODSSA-2

 

 

Second-order Science: Logic, Strategies, Methods

Stuart Umpleby

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279324039_Second-order_Science_Logic_Strategies_Methods

 

 

Second Order Cybernetics: Expanding Science in Accord with the Correspondence Principle

Stuart A. Umpleby

 

Click to access 1_UMPLEBY.pdf

 

 

Second-Order Cybernetics as a Fundamental Revolution in Science

Stuart A. Umpleby

The George Washington University, USA • umpleby/at/gmail.com

 

Click to access 455.umpleby.pdf

 

 

 

A Short History of Cybernetics in the United States

The Origin of Cybernetics

Stuart Umpleby

 

Click to access 4566_oezg4_08_s28_40_umpleby_1_.pdf

 

 

Second-order Science: A Vast and Largely Unexplored Science Frontier

 

Karl H. Müller

Alexander Riegler

 

https://philarchive.org/archive/MLLSSA

 

 

 

“Heinz von Foerster – An Appreciation” (Revisited)

Bernard Scott

 

Cybernetics And Human Knowing. Vol. 10, no. 2

 

 

 

The purpose of second-order cybernetics

Ranulph Glanville

Boundaries and Networks

Boundaries and Networks

 

Boundaries precede Networks.

It is the difference which makes the difference.

Boundaries in

  • Regionalism, Globalization, Multinational Firms (Trade/Economics)
  • Social Networks Theory/Relational Sociology (Sociology)
  • Complex Systems Theory – Micro/Macro Links (System Sciences)
  • Autocatalysis, Autopoiesis and Relational Biology (Biology)
  • System and Its Environment (Strategic Planning/Management)
  • Functional Silos (Supply Chain Management/Operations Management)
  • Individual and the Collective (Philosophy)
  • Self, Nature, Culture (Meta Integral Theories – Ken Wilber/Roy Bhaskar)
  • Fractal/Recursive/Holographic Paradigm (Cosmology)

 

 

Key Terms:

  • Order
  • Class
  • Identity
  • Culture
  • Meaning
  • Difference
  • Boundaries
  • Networks
  • Hierarchies
  • Heterarchy
  • Control
  • Power
  • System/Environment
  • Inside/Outside
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Included/Excluded
  • Multi-Level
  • Fractals
  • Scale
  • Multiplex
  • Ties
  • Chains
  • Silos
  • Connections
  • Links
  • Netchains
  • Operational Closure
  • Inequality
  • Information Asymmetry
  • Categories
  • Domain
  • Social Structure
  • Interaction
  • Interlocks
  • Institutions
  • Memory
  • Agency
  • Limits
  • Relational
  • Intra/Inter
  • Process
  • Subjective/Objective

 

Chapter 2
The Relational Turn in Social Sciences

Recent times have witnessed relational sociology, as arguably the major form of relational scholarship, gain considerable scholarly momentum. There is a forthcoming major handbook (Dépelteau, 2018), significant edited collections such as Conceptualizing relational sociology (Powell & Dépelteau, 2013), Applying relational sociology (Dépelteau & Powell, 2013), and in the broader leadership literatures Advancing relational leadership research (Uhl-Bien & Ospina, 2012).  In addition, there have been key texts from Crossley (2011), the work of Donati (1983, 1991, 2011) has become more accessible in English (to which he thanks Margaret Archer for, stating she “greatly encouraged and assisted me in presenting my theory to an international audience (Donati, 2011, p. xvii)), and – although less engaged with by English-speaking audiences—Bajoit’s (1992) Pour une sociologie relationnelle.

The Canadian Sociological Association has established a research cluster for relational sociology, with regular symposia, meetings, and events. Significantly, in 2015 the International Review of Sociology/ Revue Internationale de Sociolgie published a special section on relational sociology. Edited by Prandini (2015) and with contributions from Crossley (2015), Dépelteau (2015), Donati (2015), and Fuhse (2015), this special section sought to ascertain whether an original and international sociological paradigm entitled “relational sociology” could be identified. Prandini (2015) argues:

A new and original social paradigm is recognizable only if it accedes to the world stage of the global scientific system constituted and structured by networks of scientific scholars, scientific contributions published in scientific journals, books, internet sites, etc., fueled by a vast array of international meetings, seminars, conferences, and so on. It is only at this global level that we can decide if a new paradigm is gaining a global stage or not. Put in other words: are we really witnessing a new and emergent sociological ‘school’, or are we observing only a sort of ‘esprit du temp’ which is able to catalyse similar intuitions and sociological insights? (pp. 1–2)

At the end of his paper, Prandini (2015) contends that there is less a paradigm (in its precise Kuhnian meaning) and instead it is better to speak of a “relational turn” in sociology. Built on a strong and clear convergence toward a common critique of classic sociological theories, it is possibly the early stages of an emerging paradigm but such a label is currently premature. The real breakthrough of this turn is in forcing social scientists to specify “accurately the ontology of society and social relation and to discover new methods and research techniques well suited to study it” (Prandini, 2015, p. 13).

Relational theory is, as Emirbayer (1997) declares, beyond any one disciplinary background, national tradition, or analytic and empirical point of view. Outside of the major centers of Europe and the USA, Yanjie Bian hosted the International Conference on Relational Sociology at the Institute for Empirical Social Science of Xi’an Jiaotong University, and Jan Fuhse hosted the international symposium Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences at Humboldt University of Berlin. Donati (2011) claims that interest in social relations can be found in philosophy (from the metaphysical point of view), psychology (from the psychic point of view), economics (from the resource perspective), law (control by rule), and even biology (bioethics). The interest is also not limited to the social sciences, with Bradbury and Lichtenstein (2000) noting:

The interdependent, interrelated nature of the world has also been discovered by physicists in their study of quantum reality. In their quest to identify the basic building blocks of the natural world, quantum physicists found that atomic particles appeared more as relations than as discrete objects (Capra 1975; Wolf 1980), and that space itself is not empty but is filled with potential (Bohm 1988). Heisenberg’s discovery early this century that every observation irrevocably changes the object being observed, further fueled the recognition that human consciousness plays an irreversible role in our understanding of reality (Bachelard, 1934/1984; Wilber 1982; Jahn & Dunne 1987). (p. 552)

Apart from its widespread contemporary appeal, relational thinking has a long history. The North American stream arguably finds its roots in the New York School, European scholars such as Karl Marx, Georg Simmel, Gabriel Tarde, Norbert Elias, Niklas Luhmann, Pierre Bourdieu, Bruno Latour, among others, have long argued for various relational approaches (even if not using that label), and Emirbayer traces the tradition of privileging relations rather than substances to pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus. What is consistently germane across these various scholars is a critique of substantialism in classic sociological accounts. This also arguably speaks to the proliferation of relational scholarship in the past few decades as globalized forces are causing a rethink of spatio-temporal conditions (e.g., the nation state and geographic borders). In breaking down the substantialist approaches, and their underlying analytical dualisms, relational scholarship asks questions of the ontological and epistemological as much as the empirical.

Contemporary thought and analysis in social theory is overrun with “turns.” In this chapter, rather than be seduced by contemporary attention to a relational turn in the social sciences, I seek to highlight some major events, trajectories, or streams of relational thought. In doing so, I am critically aware of the difficulty of arguing for relational understanding and then constructing significant events as though they are entities in and of their own right. Within the confines of a single chapter, and mindful of the role that this chapter is playing the book (e.g., setting some context/trajectory for developing my argument), my goal is to cite key developments and how they relate to one another and my argument. Given my particular interest in organizing activity, my focus is on the Human Relations Movement of the early twentieth century, the New York School of relational sociology, and then contemporary developments in sociology, leadership, and to a lesser extent, the natural sciences. While I concede that there is increasing interest in what has come to be known as “relational sociology” (see also the following chapter), relational scholarship has a long and diverse intellectual history. Importantly though, as Powell and Dépelteau (2013) note, relational sociology is not a heterogeneous label and as a collection of scholars, is still quite some way from achieving any form of  consensus. Whether consensus is required, or even desirable, for relational scholarship is questionable. The diversity of ontological and methodological starting points allows scholars to investigate a wide range of phenomena. This diversity, complexity, depth, and vitality enable dialogue and debate without requiring consensus. What binds them together is their scholarly focus on relations rather than alignment with a specific empirical object and/or method of inquiry

 

CALL FOR PAPERS

The Relational Turn in Sociology: Implications for the Study of Society, Culture, and Persons

Special issue of the academic journal Stan Rzeczy [State of Affairs]

The relational approach, which has a long tradition, has re-emerged and strengthened, forming a new, vital movement of divergent variants in sociology. Initiated and systematically developed by Pierpaolo Donati, it has grown into what is called the Italian relational turn, later followed by a proliferation of relational sociologies of various origins, including the works of Harrison C. White, Charles Tilly, Mustafa Emirbayer, Pierre Bourdieu and others. After the postmodern diffusion and beyond the stagnation of interpretative against normative conceptualizations of social life, relational sociology offers new conceptual tools and plays a leading role in reconstructing sociology both on theoretical and applied planes.

Modern sciences are founded on the study of relations, rather than essences or substances. From the outset, the relational approach has had to pave its way in sociology against holistic (“science of society”) and nominalistic (“science of individuals”) orientations. Social relations are among the key sociological concepts and have been studied as constitutive for social bonding. On the micro-level, interpersonal relations have been in the center of attention in the area where sociology and social psychology overlap. The relational turn consists not only of focusing on social relations; it also involves introducing relational categories of analysis.

The category of social relations is certainly not new in social theory. What is new is the way of looking at them. Contemporary relational thinking assumes radical changes in the ontological, epistemological, and phenomenological status of social relations. Refocusing on social relations, on their constitution and emergent effects leads us to a new way of describing, understanding and explaining social and cultural phenomena as relational facts.

A particularly significant feature of relational sociology resides in its capacity to broaden the theory of the human subject not only as a self, agent, and actor, but also through the development of the concept of the person; more precisely, through deeper research on the relational constitution of the human person as a social subject emerging from relational reflexivity (dialogue between ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘We’, ‘You’ in a situated social context) – in other words, a view of the human person as homo relatus. Analyzing these processes leads to a sui generis relational theory of agency.

Various or divergent theories of contemporary social and cultural processes evoke relationality, but relational analysis differs from “relationistic” positions. Most existing approaches, both historical and modern, cannot be considered relational sociology in a true sense unless the social relation is conceived as a reality sui generis and society is conceptualized as a network of social relations.

“Turn” refers to a gradual transformation of the field of scientific theories, rather than to a scientific revolution. Several characteristic features of a “turn” appear to correspond well with significant traits of the relational turn: an epistemological rupture, which is brought about by introducing an innovative vocabulary that opens up new analytic perspectives;  an attempt to reconstruct the scientific domains of knowledge under conditions of their growing fragmentation; introduction of a novel perspective that shows existing knowledge in a new light; moving on from the research object to the category of analysis. These are the features of a genuine new intellectual movement that enters into debates and polemics, particularly as regards various ways of understanding relations and relationality.

The synergetic effect of a creative exchange of ideas between the founders of theories that have been independently pursued – the relational theory of society developed by Pierpaolo Donati and the theory of morphogenic society, developed on the basis of critical realism by Margaret S. Archer – proves particularly fruitful for the study of the after-modern and the new possibilities of a morphogenic society, in which the challenge of re-articulating social relations remains of central importance.

The aim of this special issue is to reflect upon the innovative potential of contemporary relational theorizing of society, culture, and persons and to go beyond superficial statements on relational sociology by addressing these issues through in-depth investigations. We invite authors to take on problems of relational sociology by discussing its main assumptions, by conceptual clarifications, by re-articulating the concepts pertinent to understanding social phenomena in relational terms, and by empirical studies guided by methodological rules of relational analysis.

http://www.stanrzeczy.edu.pl

 

 

Please see my related posts:

Boundary Spanning in Multinational and Transnational Corporations

Relational Turn in Economic Geography

Networks and Hierarchies

Boundaries and Relational Sociology

Autocatalysis, Autopoiesis and Relational Biology

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

Art of Long View: Future, Uncertainty and Scenario Planning

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

 

BOUNDARIES/NETWORKS

Chapter of Book ME++

Click to access 9780262633130_sch_0001.pdf

 

 


Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences

International Symposium, Berlin, September 25/26, 2008

http://www.relational-sociology.de

 

 

 

Symposium on Relational Sociology

https://sozlog.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/symposion-on-relational-sociology/

 

Relational sociology

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relational_sociology

 

 

 

Networks and Boundaries

Athanasios Karafillidis

RWTH Aachen University
Correspondence: atha@karafillidis.com

Paper presented at the International Symposium
„Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences“,
Berlin,

September 25-26, 2008

Click to access Netbound.pdf

 

 

Theorising Borders as Mechanisms of Connection

Anthony Cooper

Click to access 2013cooperaphd.pdf

 

 

Boundaries, Hierarchies and Networks in Complex Systems

PAUL CILLIERS

2001

Click to access Cilliers-2001-Boundaries-Hierarchies-and-Networks.pdf

 

Fractal Boundaries of Complex Networks

Jia Shao, Sergey V. Buldyrev, Reuven Cohen
Maksim Kitsak1, Shlomo Havlin, and H. Eugene Stanley

Click to access boundaries.pdf

 

Rethinking the Financial Network

Speech given by
Andrew G Haldane, Executive Director, Financial Stability, Bank of England

At the Financial Student Association, Amsterdam

28 April 2009

Click to access speech386.pdf

 

 

 

Knowledge, limits and boundaries

Paul Cilliers

Click to access cilliers%202005%20knowledge%20limits.pdf

 

 

On the Status of Boundaries, both Natural and Organizational: A Complex Systems Perspective

Kurt A. Richardson & Michael R. Lissack

Click to access 6b5711dc6782e451ad32078b799cd487cb3b.pdf

Exploring System Boundaries: Complexity Theory and Legal Autopoiesis

Thomas Edward Webb

Click to access T.E._Webb_Exploring_System_Boundaries_accepted_version_.pdf

 

 

The Role of Leaders in Managing Organisation Boundaries

Click to access v10286-012-0001-0.pdf

 

 

 

Managing Boundary Spanning Elements: An Introduction

Sunil Sahadev, Keyoor Purani, and Neeru Malhotra

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Michel_Rod/publication/272733714_Sahadev_S_Purani_K_and_Malhotra_N_eds_Boundary_Spanning_Elements_and_the_Marketing_Function_in_Organizations_Springer/links/5566139008aec22682ff167f/Sahadev-S-Purani-K-and-Malhotra-N-eds-Boundary-Spanning-Elements-and-the-Marketing-Function-in-Organizations-Springer.pdf#page=8

 

 

 

 

Boundary-Spanning in Organizations: Network, Influence and Conflict

Edited by Janice Langan Fox, Cary Cooper

 

https://www.routledge.com/Boundary-Spanning-in-Organizations-Network-Influence-and-Conflict/Langan-Fox-Cooper/p/book/9780415628839

A Borderless World and Nationless Firms?

Click to access prism_chapter.pdf

 

 

 

 

ADAPTATION AND THE BOUNDARY OF MULTINATIONAL FIRMS

Arnaud Costinot
Lindsay Oldenski
James E. Rauch

January 2009

Click to access w14668.pdf

http://economics.mit.edu/files/6456

 

The Boundaries of Multinational Enterprises and the Theory of International Trade

James R. Markusen

http://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.9.2.169

 

Incomplete Contracts and the Boundaries of the Multinational Firm

Nathan Nunn

Daniel Trefler§

June 2008

Click to access NunnTreflerPaper.pdf

 

 

Complexity and Philosophy

Francis HEYLIGHEN

Paul CILLIERS,

Carlos GERSHENSON

Click to access 0604072.pdf

 

 

 

Complexity, Deconstruction and Relativism

Paul Cilliers

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.466.6144&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Click to access The_importance_of_a_certain_slowness.pdf

 

 

Towards an Economy of Complexity: Derrida, Morin and Bataille

Oliver Human

Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Paul Cilliers

Click to access Human_Complexity.pdf

 

 

 

The architecture of complexity

Herbert Simon

Click to access Thearchitectureofcomplexity.pdf

 

 

 

 

Complexity and postmodernism

Understanding complex systems

Paul Cilliers

Click to access Paul-Cilliers-Complexity-and-Postmodernism-Understanding-Complex-Systems-1998.pdf

 

 

Complexity, Difference and Identity
An Ethical Perspective

Paul Cilliers, Rika Preiser (Eds.)

http://www.springer.com/us/book/9789048191864

 

Introduction to Critical Complexity. Collected Essays by Paul Cilliers

Click to access Introduction-to-Critical-Complexity-Collected-Essays-by-Paul-Cilliers.pdf

 

 

Chapter 2
The Relational Turn in Social Sciences

Beyond Leadership
A Relational Approach to Organizational Theory in Education

Authors: Eacott, Scott

http://www.springer.com/us/book/9789811065675

http://scotteacott.com/reading-list/

 

 

Relational Sociology: A New Paradigm for the Social Sciences

By Pierpaolo Donati

 

 

 

Conceptualizing Relational Sociology: Ontological and Theoretical Issues

edited by C. Powell, F. Dépelteau

 

Applying Relational Sociology: Relations, Networks, and Society,

edited by Francçois Depélteau and Christopher Powell.
Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan,

 

 

 

Birth and development of the relational theory of society:
a journey looking for a deep ‘relational sociology

Click to access donati_birth_and_development_of_the_relational_theory_of_society.pdf

 

 

 

Beyond the Manifesto: Mustafa Emirbayer and Relational Sociology

Lily Liang Sida Liu

Click to access Working-Paper-2017-02.pdf

 

 

 

 

Towards Relational Sociology

By Nick Crossley

 

 

 

 

Manifesto for a Relational Sociology

Mustafa Emirbayer

The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 103, No. 2. (Sep., 1997), pp. 281-317

Click to access Mustafa%20Emirbayer_Manifesto%20for%20a%20Relational%20Sociology.pdf

 

 

 

TOWARDS A CONCEPTUALIZATION OF BORDER: THE CENTRAL EUROPEAN EXPERIENCE

by Josef Langer (Klagenfurt)

Click to access JLanger3.pdf

 

 

 

 

THE STUDY OF BOUNDARIES IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

Michele Lamont and Vira ́g Molnar

Click to access m.lamont-v.molnar-the_study_of_boundaries.pdf

 

 

 

Beyond “the relationship between the individual and society”: broadening and deepening relational thinking in group analysis

Sasha Roseneil

Click to access 11305548.pdf

 

 

 

The Relational Turn in Sociology: Implications for the Study of Society, Culture, and Persons

Special issue of the academic journal Stan Rzeczy [State of Affairs]

https://calenda.org/385129?file=1

Click to access relational_turn_speakers.pdf

 

 

NETWORKS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES: COMPARING ACTOR-NETWORK THEORY AND SOCIAL NETWORK ANALYSIS

LILLA VICSEK1 – GÁBOR KIRÁLY – HANNA KÓNYA

Boundaries and Relational Sociology

In the age of globalization, our analysis should focus on Networks/Linkages and Boundaries.  There are several important issues:

  • Relations
  • Networks
  • Culture
  • Identity
  • Control
  • Meaning
  • Boundaries
  • Hierarchy

Mathematical Analysis of social and economic networks currently popular in economics ignore many of the above issues.

Two prominent Scholars:

  • Charles Tilly
  • Harrison White

 

From Theorizing social networks: the relational sociology of and around Harrison White

 

Relational sociology provides a substantial account of social networks, conceptualizing them as real social structures interwoven with meaning. Forms of meaning connected to network configurations (as part of their ‘domains’) include stories, identities, social categories (including role categories), and institutions. Recent advances lead to a network perspective on culture, and to an emphasis on communicative events in networks. In contrast to other strands of relational sociology, the approach aims at a close connection between empirical research and theoretical reflection. Theoretical concepts and arguments are geared at empirical applicability in network research, rather than mainly providing a theoretical description of the social world. 

 

From Relational Sociology, Culture, and Agency

 

While disagreement remains among network analysts regarding this issue, a broader “relational perspective” within sociology has been simmering for the past three decades, often involving scholars who themselves do not use formal network methodology, or who use it only marginally in their research. Inspired by such eminent figures as Harrison White and Charles Tilly, this perspective has taken some of the broader theoretical insights of network analysis and extended them to the realms of culture, history, politics, economics, and social psychology. Fundamental to this theoretical orientation (if it can be called that) is not merely the insistence that what sociologists call “structure” is intrinsically relational, but also, perhaps more deeply, that relational thinking is a way to overcome stale antinomies between structure and agency through a focus on the dynamics of social interactions in different kinds of social settings.

 

From Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences

 

Coming from the structuralism of network analysis, Relational Sociologists began to model social structures as networks filled with meaning. White’s Identity and Control (1992) triggered a chain of empirical studies, like Peter Bearman’s Relations into Rhetorics, Roger Gould’s Insurgent Identities, Charles Tilly’s Contentious Politics in Great Britain, 1758-1834, and Ann Mische’s Partisan Publics. Many of these today rank as milestones of Relational Sociology.

Over the past 20 years, Relational Sociology has become probably the most important and innovative research perspective in American sociology. In the social sciences in Germany, however, Relational Sociology is still little known and rarely applied. Few Relational Sociologists feature in academic references or in seminar reading lists.

In general, Relational Sociology aims at the theoretical modelling and empirical analysis of social networks as socio-cultural formations – network structure is conceived of as interwoven with cultural patterns. With this approach, Relational Sociology supersedes the pure structuralism prevalent in most network research. The central figure of Relational Sociology is Harrison White. White has shaped the work of many of the most important network researchers (from Mark Granovetter and Paul DiMaggio to Roger Gould and Ann Mische).

All of these works start from similar theoretical propositions:
The very identities of social entities (individuals or corporate actors like social movements or firms) come from the manyfold roles these entities occupy in their various networks. Accordingly, Relational Sociology focuses on the formation of meaning and identities in social networks.

 

 

Key Sources of Research: 

 

Chains and networks, territories and scales: towards a relational framework for analysing the global economy

PETER DICKEN, PHILIP F. KELLY, KRIS OLDS and HENRY WAI-CHUNG YEUNG

Click to access DKOY_2001.pdf

 

Theorizing social networks: the relational sociology of and around Harrison White

International Review of Sociology: Revue Internationale de Sociologie

Volume 25, Issue 1, 2015

 

THE STUDY OF BOUNDARIES IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

Miche`le Lamont and Vira ́g Molna ́r

 

Click to access 568bd4cd08ae8f6ec752350e.pdf

 

Networks and Boundaries

Athanasios Karafillidis

 

Click to access Netbound.pdf

 

Globalization and Borders: Theorising Borders as Mechanisms of Connection

Anthony Cooper

 

Click to access 2013cooperaphd.pdf

 

Relational Sociology, Culture, and Agency

Ann Mische

 

Click to access mische_relational_sociology_2011.pdf

 

Networks and Institutions

Jason Owen-Smith and Walter W. Powell

Click to access SAGE.pdf

 

Networks, Diffusion, and Cycles of Collective Action

Pamela Oliver Daniel J. Myers

Click to access NetworksDiffusionCycles.pdf

 

The Strength of Weak Ties

Mark S. Granovetter

Click to access the_strength_of_weak_ties_and_exch_w-gans.pdf

 

The Meaning Structure of Social Networks

JAN A. FUHSE

Click to access FuhseMeaningNetworks.pdf

 

Network Analysis, Culture, and the Problem of Agency.

Mustafa Emirbayer; Jeff Goodwin.

The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 99, No.

Click to access ais94.pdf

 

Manifesto for a Relational Sociology

Mustafa Emirbayer

Click to access Emirbayer%20Manifesto%20for%20a%20Relational%20Sociology.pdf

 

Systems, Network, and Culture

Dirk Baecker

2008

 

Click to access baecker4.pdf

 

Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences

International Symposium, Berlin, September 25/26, 2008

http://www.janfuhse.de/relational-sociology/program.html

 

Networks out of Systems

Boris Holzer

 

Click to access holzer.pdf

 

Tilly, Charles.

Identities, boundaries and social ties.

Routledge, 2015.

 

Social Boundary Mechanisms

CHARLES TILLY

2004

Click to access 2004_SocialBoundary.pdf