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Role of Social Systems Theory and the Family within Society - Essay Example

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Role of Social Systems Theory and the Family within Society

The ideal should be to provide as good a practical service to clients as possible rather than the testing of ideas.
Social systems theory is a method of understand various systems that humans interact with in an effort to provide answers for the problems of social functioning that may occur for both individuals and groups. Throughout the history of sociology there have been various attempts to construct what might be termed as a "grand theory" of human social interaction (Jokisch, 2001).
Talcott Parsons was one of the first sociologists to offer a single theory. Parsons saw systems as an analytical tool to understand certain processes that were occurring within society. By contrast, e was followed up by the specific features of Niklas Luhmann, who first used the term social systems theory (Luhmann, 1995). Luhmann suggests that systems exist as a discrete entity that can and should be studied in and of itself. As Moeller et al. suggest, the originating point of nearly all social systems theory is that "it no longer holds that current society can be successfully based on the basis that it is (or should be) fundamentally humane, and that it is, on principle, an assembly of individual human beings" (Moeller, 2006).
Thus social systems theory avoids the temptation to indulge in what may be seen as unfounded generalizations about the "nature" of human beings or far reaching conceptualizations that ignore reality. The basis of Luhmann's ideas is communication. He sees social systems as essentially systems of communication. A system is defined by a boundary between it and its environment, dividing it from a hopelessly complex and chaotic exterior. The systems is then, through simple logic, less complex and less chaotic than the exterior.
Luhmann argues that if a system fails to maintain its identity, it cease to exist as a system and dissolves back into the overall environment from which it emerged in the first place. Elements are filtered by the system into some kind of organization within what Luhmann termed as autopoiesis, literally "self-creation", a term he borrowed from cognitive biology. Social systems are autopoietically closed as they use and rely upon resources from the environment, but these resources do not necessarily become part of the system's environment.
With some reason, much of social systems theory has been criticized as rather remote and perhaps not too relevant to the actual world that human beings inhabit. The fact that the study of humans as discrete individuals is rejected by Luhmann et al. seems to lend support to these criticisms. As Weiner (1978) it might be difficult to associate such esoteric theories with their application within the resoundingly practical world of the delivery of human services to at need groups, families and individuals.
But seeing society as a system, and one in which the constituent parts can be analyzed and perhaps even categorized according to similar types that have been discovered before is of use to the delivery of human services. Many societies may seem so utterly complex that the only method of dealing with them is on a case-by-case ad hoc basis rather than through some kind of systematic paradigm.
Systems theory may help in answering a number of basic questions regarding human services. As Gardner (2003) suggest, ...Show more


Social systems theory provides a complex, often esoteric framework for the provision of human services. The theory concentrates on seeing systems as somehow remote from the actual physical features of the environment -whether it be human or natural - within which they exist…
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Role of Social Systems Theory and the Family within Society
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