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Social systems and social engineering: Niklas Luhmann

  • Kristof van AsscheEmail author
  • Martijn Duineveld
  • Gert Verschraegen
  • Roel During
  • Raoul Beunen
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter introduces a number of concepts from Niklas Luhmann’s social systems theory as they relate to innovation, transition and transition management. An understanding of Luhmann’s ideas on innovation and steering is essential to grasp a Luhmannian view of system innovation and transition management. Two levels of analysis are developed. The first level centres on the political system, pushing innovation and trying to manage transition, while the second level focuses on organisations and their attempts to innovate. Luhmann is eminently useful in relating the two levels and thus in laying the groundwork for a theory of innovation and transition. An analysis of the development of Dutch discourse on systems innovation, social engineering and transition management since the 1990s serves to illustrate and apply the social systems perspective. Finally, the chapter argues that modernist notions of steering pervading the governance system overestimate the role of governmental actors and underestimate other sources of innovation and systemic innovation that could be labeled ‘transition’.

Keywords

Function System System Innovation Operational Closure Transition Management Transition Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Wageningen Academic Publishers 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristof van Assche
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martijn Duineveld
    • 2
  • Gert Verschraegen
    • 3
  • Roel During
    • 4
  • Raoul Beunen
    • 5
  1. 1.Planning and Community Development ProgramMinnesota State UniversityMankatoUSA
  2. 2.Socio-spatial Analysis groupWageningen UniversityWageningenNetherlands
  3. 3.Department of SociologyAntwerp UniversityAntwerpBelgium
  4. 4.Cultural heritage and spatial planningAlterra Wageningen University and Research CentreWageningenNetherlands
  5. 5.Land Use Planning groupWageningen UniversityWageningenNetherlands

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