Volume 1 Number 2 Fall/Winter 2000
Editors: Cor Van Dijkum, Felix Geyer, Richard E. Lee
Editorial Board: Mike Byron, Tesaleno Devezas, Jorge González, Bernd R. Hornung, Chaime Marcuello, Vessela Misheva, Philip Nikolopoulos, Bernard Scott, Bernard Scott
The JOURNAL OF SOCIOCYBERNETICS (ISSN 1607-8667) is published biannually–
Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter–as an electronic journal by the Research Committee on Sociocybernetics of the International Sociological Association.
- Heinrich W. Ahlemeyer: Managing Organized Knowledge: A Systemic Proposal
- Jacques Van, Maria Van Bockstaele, Martine Godard-Plasman: Observing Action in situ
- Bernd R. Hornung: Walter Buckley; Society – A Complex Adaptive System: Essays in Social Theory
- Philip Nicolopoulos: Cybernetics and Systems. Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress. Volumes 1, 2, 3.
MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSIONS should be sent electronically (in MSWord or Rich Text File format) to each of the editors: Richard E. Lee email@example.com, Felix Geyer firstname.lastname@example.org, and Cor van Dijkum email@example.com. In general, please follow the Chicago Manuel of Style; citations and bibliography should follow the current journal style (APA). Normally, articles should be original texts of no more than 6000 words, although longer articles will be considered in exceptional circumstances. The Journal looks for submissions that are innovative and apply principles of General Systems Theory and Cybernetics to the social sciences, broadly conceived. Submitted texts will be refereed by members of the Editorial Board, and/or specialists in the field concerned.
COPYRIGHT remains the property of authors. Permission to reprint must be obtained from the authors and the contents of JoS cannot be copied for commercial purposes. JoS does, however, reserve the right to future reproduction of articles in hard copy, portable document format (.pdf), or HTML editions of JoS.
SOCIOCYBERNETICS traces its intellectual roots to the rise of a whole panoply of new approaches to scientific inquiry beginning in the 1940’s. These included General System Theory, cybernetics and information theory, game theory and automata, net, set, graph and compartment theories, and decision and queuing theory conceived as strategies in one way or another appropriate to the study of organized complexity. Although today the Research Committee casts a wide net in terms of appropriate subject matters, pertinent theoretical frameworks and applicable methodologies, the range of approaches deployed by scholars associated with RC51 reflect the maturation of these developments. Here we find, again, GST and first- and second-order cybernetics; in addition, there is widespread sensitivity to the issues raised by “complexity studies,” especially in work conceptualizing systems as self-organizing, autocatalytic or autopoietic. “System theory”, in the form given it by Niklas Luhmann, and world-systems analysis are also prominently represented within the ranks of RC51.
The institutionalization of sociocybernetic approaches in what was to become RC51, the Research Committee on Sociocybernetics of the International Sociological Association, began in 1980 with the founding of an ISA Ad Hoc Group and proceeded with the organization of sessions at succeeding quadrennial World Congresses of Sociology. The eventual RC51 became a Thematic Group and then a Working Group. Finally, in recognition of its extraordinary success (growing from some 30 members in early 1995 to 240 in 1998), the group was promoted to the status of Research Committee at the 1998 World Congress of Sociology in Montreal.
Over these past two decades, sociocybernetics has attracted a broad range of scholars whose departmental affiliations represent the entire spectrum of the disciplines, from the humanities and the social sciences through the sciences, mathematics and engineering. Furthermore, the many countries of origin of these RC51 members attest to the wide international appeal of sociocybernetic approaches. Within this highly diverse community, there is wide agreement on some very general issues, for instance, on developing strategies for the study of human reality that avoid reification, are cognizant of the pitfalls of reductionism and dualism, and generally eschew linear or homeostatic models. Not surprisingly, however, there are also wide divergences in subject matter, theoretical frameworks and methodological practices.
Many have argued that models developed for the study of complexity can be usefully appropriated for the study of human reality. Moreover, however, the emphasis in complexity studies on contingency, context-dependency, multiple, overlapping temporal and spatial frameworks, and deterministic but unpredictable systems displaying an arrow-of-time suggest that the dividing line between the sciences and the historical social sciences is fuzzier than many might like to think. What is more, in the humanities, the uniquely modern concepts of original object and autonomous human creator have come under serious attack. The coincidence of these two phenomena substantiate the impression that across the disciplines there may be observed a new concern for spatial-temporal wholes constituted at once of relational structures and the phenomenological time of their reproduction and change.
It is, then, in this context of rich history and exciting possibilities that the Research Committee on Sociocybernetics of the International Sociological Association extends an open invitation through the Journal of Sociocybernetics to all engaged in the common quest to explain and understand social reality holistically and self-reflexively without forsaking a concern for human values–human values not construed simply as a matter of individual ethics, but conceived as an integral part of a social science for our time.