Department of Political Science

Gorm Harste

The  Big, Large and Huge Case of State-Building:  - Studying macro phenomena with system theory

Research output: Working paperResearch

  • Department of Political Science

Using communication theory as point of departure it is not evident how to study macro phenomena. Michel Foucault delimited his studies to a non-Grand Theory when he studied discursive events. At the same time Charles Tilly wrote about Big Structures, Large Processes, Huge Comparisons when he tried to establish a perspective on a macro phenomena as European state formation. With Luhmann's system theory, the claim is that there is no such contradiction between Grand evolution and particular semantic history. Passing through some classic studies of the historical establishment of interaction systems, organization systems and functional systems, the paper outlines some stands to study European state formation from a second order system theory. The point is to observe the semantic codings as second order codes of codes and to look after this self-referential form in the semantic history of organization, war, finance, law and politics. This offers a picture of structures, semantic differentiations and for elites as well as commoners that have interests in operations that paves ways for state formation as an evolutionary learning process. In order to fulfill that aim, aspects of Luhmann's theory has had to be further developed with a theory of organization history and a theory of Der Krieg der Gesellschaft. Hence, a system theory of state formations turns up to be a grounded theory where the semantic material can offer meaningful narratives in a framework that offers a difference to sociological theory.

Original languageEnglish
Place of publicationIUC, Dubrovnik
Number of pages15
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2009

    Research areas

  • Luhmann, empirical research, methodologies, code analysis, form analysis, theory of the state, history

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