For Niklas Luhmann modern society is a functionally differentiated society, i. e. it is composed of heterogeneous but equal parts which are relatively independent and are defined as social subsystems. Luhmann's analysis presents contemporary society as a whole differentiated into functionally dependent yet autonomous sub-systems that constitute neighbouring worlds for each other. This raises the question of the existence or non-existence of potential unifying forces or integration mechanisms. In Luhmann's view the main problem is the non-existence of means of 'metacommunication'. The development of specialised media and codes in the individual sub-systems increases the overall complexity of the social system, but does not entail the metacommunication that would make possible the self-observation and self-reference of the social system as a whole.
Jiri Subrt, FF UK, Celetna 20, Praha 1, 116 42, Czech Republic; http://dlib.lib.cas.cz/5948/
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