Conference Report: Methodologies of Systems—How to Get to the Case and How to Get Behind It. Organized by Arbeitskreis Funktionale Analyse [Research Group Functional Analysis]

Jasmin Siri


The international conference on "Methodologies of the System" provided an inventory of empirical research informed by systems theory. In eight parallel workshops on topics such as "Organization," "Interaction," and "Semantics," more than twenty different empirical research projects were discussed. The workshops were framed by eight keynote lectures on "Methodology and Systems Theory," "Theory as Methodology," "Method and Methodology," as well as "Methodological Imports." In this conference report I will summarize the main topics of the conference and connect them with current approaches to empirical research with systems theory.
The following questions will be answered: Which position do studies inspired by systems theory take within the sociological discussions about methods? Which analytical advancements are possible and necessary? Does a "unity" of systems theoretical research exist? Did the conference produce an appearance of unity, which does not represent the plurality of different approaches?
Systems theoretical approaches seek access to empirical fields in very different ways. In the process, those approaches seem particularly productive which focus on the empirical interest and not on the faithfulness to their own theory. Given that different approaches presented at this conference produced sound arguments about how to deal with empirical data, it would be counterproductive to implement a rigid canon of method systems theoretical research. The commensurability of a specific method or methodology needs to be extracted from the empirical case and its needs. The conference showed that systems theoretical research and empirical concerns mate. However, it showed as well the misunderstandings that this approach possibly feeds by its terminology and self-descriptions.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0902223


functional analysis; systems theory; constructivism; post structuralism; Luhmann; communications theory

Copyright (c) 1970 Jasmin Siri

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