Latest Publication: Systems, Not People, Make Society Happen
By Michael King
Published June 2009
Systems, not People, Make Society Happen reveals how new ideas about society can change our understanding of everything that happens in the world, from political decisions, such as the invasion of Iraq to the impact of technological innovations or even to common, daily events, such as falling in love or buying a faulty iPod. By questioning fundamental assumptions about what society and people are, it challenges claims that human beings are able to identify risks accurately and regulate behaviour to minimize the possibility of failure. This has enormous implications for issues such as the world economic crisis, global warming, population growth and mass immigration. Michael King takes recent academic debates concerning the nature of knowledge, the observation of reality and the relationship between social and conscious systems and, by reproducing them in the form of a highly readable narrative makes them applicable to contemporary social issues. Anyone who has an interest in the future of humanity and is concerned by claims that the future can be controlled by decisions made in the present will find this book fascinating and disturbing reading.
Giulia Bryson, International Journal of Law in Context
The book is brimming with virtuoso achievements in the art of translating theoretical concepts into down-to-earth language while maintaining their bite … This book will … be most successful with those law and sociology undergraduates who notoriously complain about the difficulty of understanding autopoiesis. … The task of explaining a complex theory in easily accessible terms to a wide audience is in many ways even more complex than the theory itself, and King succeeds in doing so with flair and resourcefulness … This makes this little book an invaluable introduction to Luhmann’s theory; it is certain to prove an effective aid to struggling students and other beginners... » Read Full Review
Hans-Georg Moeller, University College, Cork, Ireland.
Systems, not People, make Society Happen, shows the obvious that has so far largely gone unnoticed. This is that we, the people, do not control our world. Despite all the claims to the contrary by politicians, in schools or in Hollywood action movies, the disturbing fact is that, in a complex, global society like ours, no one is in the driver’s seat. Yet the world goes on, for better or worse. Michael King explains how this is possible. His book is a powerful attempt to undermine the enlightenment myth of "people's power" over themselves. It is not only a highly provocative book, but is written in a most enjoyable, lucid, and witty style.
Dr Olga Boiko, University of Sheffield
I have read your book with a great pleasure. It makes for very engaging, and interesting reading on an
extremely tough subject. The book successfully attends to the keystones of contemporary systems theory:
structural coupling, observation and functional analysis of systemic communications.
The most attractive thing about the book is that it is full of examples of communications authentic to different systems, from academia and everyday communication. Other feature which really appealed to me is the clear, focussed message.
Allan Roberts, Sociocybernetics Yahoo Group
'System not people' is a wonderful book ... It should be compulsory reading for all undergrads, for its own value but also as a great example of the way that complicated ideas can (and should) be expressed with simple language.