Niklas Luhmann. A Social Systems Perspective on the Internet

Por Marco Toledo Bastos
This paper presents a social system’s perspective on the Internet. It summarizes the contributions of German sociologist Niklas Luhmann and outlines the theoretical boundaries between the theory of social systems and that of media studies. The paper highlights the self-referential nature of the Internet, which is depicted as both system and environment by means of a network of serialized selections passing on data. Therefore, whereas media theory pictures the Internet as a medium, this paper describes it as a system, in regard to its self-referential dynamic, and as an environment, in regard to the non-organized complexity of data within the medium. Even though the Internet is hereby depicted as an autopoietic system via a social system’s perspective, this paper will not resort to all concepts from this theory.

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