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Steering as Paradox: The Ambiguous Role of the Political System in Modern Society
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
Universitetet i Tromsø, Institutt for Sosiologi.
2007 (English)In: Cybernetics and Human Knowing, Vol. 14, no 2-3, 133-150 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Generally it is taken for granted that social problems such as unemployment, demographic aging and uncontrolled immigration can be effectively met by counter-steering. The usual question, then, is how to do this, but not who should do it? It is assumed that the agency to perform this task is the state. In this article the authors put this into question and ask how the need for steering can be explained with theory of society. They discover an inherent paradox in the approach to steering society: Steering is necessary because it is impossible. Structurally, modern society lacks a place from which the momentums of the self-referential subsystems (and their complex effects) can be steered. It has neither a center nor a top. Notwithstanding, the problems are observed as “problems” which call for a solution. Because steering is structurally impossible, the vacuum must be filled semantically. The explanation has to be found here why this task can only be fulfilled by the political system and neither by science nor by economy. Politics’ societal function addresses the problem of collectivity: to bind a collectivity and, at the same time, to be made responsible for it. That is why the political system is considered to be the steering agency of society, and has to fail.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 14, no 2-3, 133-150 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-14586OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-14586DiVA: diva2:42357
Available from: 2008-01-30 Created: 2008-01-30Bibliographically approved

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