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Calidad Revistas Científicas Españolas
Author / Antonio ASENCIO-GUILLÉN Invited professor UNED and researcher UNIVERSITY OF DISTANCE LEARNING – UNED (SPAIN)
Author / Julio NAVÍO-MARCO Professor. School of Economic Sciences. University of Distance Learning (UNED), Spain.
More authors:  1 2
Article / Cyberspace as a system and a social environment: a theoretical proposal based on Niklas Luhmann

Abstract /

As has been the case with most of the advances in communication technologies throughout history, social theory has chosen an anthropocentric approach to the analysis of cyberspace. The human being is placed at the centre of the theoretical model, and as a logical consequence, findings have been oriented towards describing the positive or negative effects of the phenomenon on society and the individual. Without discarding the validity or necessity of these perspectives, whose genesis and evolution we address synthetically and diachronically, we propose to improve on them in order to better understand the functioning of cyberspace. To do this, we will apply to the study of cyberspace the systemic approach of Niklas Luhmann, who proposes going beyond anthropocentrism, which he considered to be an "epistemological obstacle”, to use Gaston Bachelard’s definition. For Luhmann the characteristic element of social systems was not individuals, but communications. By applying this new paradigm, we will consider whether cyberspace complies with the central features of social systems or if whether it functions like a social environment. In the conclusions, we will observe that cyberspace is in part a system and in part an environment; in other words, what we would call a social hypersystem. It is a communication system that is autonomous and self-produced technologically, but it is, at the same time, the environment of the social system, representing in itself the possibility of increasing its complexity.

Keywords /

Luhmann, cyberspace, social system, communication theory, technology, Bachelard

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