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.
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.
Felicity Kaganas, Reader, Brunel University, UK.
This book offers an insight into how society might be understood through observing systems. As the title suggests, the book argues that it is social systems rather than individuals that make things happen. While the ideas it presents are not simple, this book makes them easily accessible. It is very readible and the ideas emerge clearly through the use of immediate, familiar and very concrete examples.
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.
Katayoun Baghai, McGill University, Canada
This book brought home to me the importance of engaging social issues of public concern as well as mundane events of everyday life from a social systems perspective...By trying to dim the blinding light of control in the readers’ eyes, the book seeks to help them see what lies in the margins. It opens the possibility of new societal self-descriptions and new systems. It provokes imagination for new ways of making sense of reality beyond the myth of progress.
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.