May There Be A “Socionomy” Beyond “Sociology”?
SCIPOLICY--The Journal of Science and Health Policy 2(1) (2002),
Science & Technology Dynamics, University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR)
Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam
For many centuries astrology has provided us with metaphors, but astronomy emerged as an exact science during the Scientific Revolution. Urry’s (2000) book Sociology Beyond Societies: Mobilities for the twenty-first century provides the basis for a sociological appreciation of complex systems theory. In order to shape a “socionomy beyond sociology,” the focus has to shift from “metaphors” based on analogous reasoning to “diaphors,” or distinctions based on analytical reasoning. Cultural evolution can then be distinguished from biological evolution. The cultural evolution is composed of different, but concurrent subdynamics. These subdynamics (e.g., globalization) are locally integrated in performative action, but under selection pressure the integration also reproduces the differentiation. Globalizing or knowledge-based systems can be sustained by cross-sectoral networks like university-industry-government relations. The complex dynamics, however, further develop on top of the observable network relations by reflecting this knowledge infrastructure in terms of potentially incommensurable discourses.
John Urry’s (2000) study provides us with an interesting attempt to combine a sociological appreciation of complex systems theory (e.g., Luhmann, 1984; Cilliers, 1998) with “actor-network theory.” “Actor-network theory” (ANT) has also been called the “sociology of translation.” In this tradition of radical constructivism (Callon & Latour, 1981; Latour, 1987), authors argue that the networks of technological artifacts, mental mappings, and human beings are continuously integrating these very heterogeneous elements. This integration provides the elements with new meaning; and this transformation of meaning can then be considered as a “translation.”
Urry mainly used a reformulation of ANT by Annemarie Mol and John Law in their article entitled “Regions, networks and fluids: anaemia and social topology” (1994). Three concepts are further elaborated: networks, fluxes, and scapes. “Scapes” can be considered a generalized notion of “landscapes.” Networks can be stabilized into specific scapes, but the scapes can be destabilized and sometimes globalized by fluxes.
By reformulating Mol & Law’s “fluids” into “fluxes,” Urry makes them accessible to complex systems theory. “Fluxes” can be modeled in simulations as first derivatives of variables (dx/dt). Unlike variables, these algorithmic measures contain time measurement endogenously. Simulation results, however, require another round of appreciative theorizing because, unlike the biologist, the sociologist cannot assume that a single order is given “naturally.” The appreciation of an observable state of an otherwise complex and dynamic system assumes a reduction of its complexity by provisionally fixing a geometrical perspective.
For example, one can take a snapshot of the state of a complex system at one moment in time, or one can reconstruct its trajectory along the time axis (e.g., in terms of stability and change). Geometrical representations may use orthogonal axes for the appreciation of a complex dynamics (Hofstadter, 1979). In the case of “near orthogonality” the various reflections can be expected to generate “nearly incommensurable” perspectives (Simon, 1973; Leydesdorff, 1997 and 2001).
The observable results of the interacting dynamics can be too complex for a single appreciation. In the context of “artificial life,” Langton (1989) once proposed that theories be considered as “genotypical” simplifications of a phenotypical reality. The analytical discourses specify only subdynamics using reflections from a specific angle. The more the geometrical metaphors are different, the larger the surplus value of translations among these metaphors can be (Hesse, 1980 and 1988).
For example, university-industry-government relations have been studied using the triple helix as a metaphor (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 1997). But this metaphor is not yet sufficiently precise to indicate heuristically whether one should focus one’s research on the overlap and the interaction among the three sectors or on their structural differences. Actor-network theory, on the one hand, has focused on the integration of heterogeneous elements. Human and non-human elements are considered as “actants” at the network level. Integration can then be observed as the performative action of the networked system. Aggregates of actions potentially lead to the historical stabilization of new facts and artifacts.
Complex systems theory, on the other hand, tends to focus on the constructed system more than on the construction (Luhmann, 1984 and 1990). The dynamics are complex because the system is considered as the result of various subdynamics. Local integration remains partial. The distinctions among the systems integrating are focal, and the functions of these differentiations are emphasized.
From this latter perspective, the communicative overlay of communications among the institutional partners in a triple helix of university-industry-government relations can be expected to reproduce the differentiation in terms of codes of communication specific to science, industry, or government. The reproduction of the differentiation (through partial integration) makes a next round of interactions possible. The system thus propels itself in terms of both integration in action and differentiation in communication.
The non-linear dynamics of the reflexive discourses
When changes in perspectives along different axes of the system under study are reflexively possible, the epistemological status of the theoretical metaphors changes. The metaphors guide the research process within single disciplines and traditions. However, the development of more than a single perspective can be expected when studying complex dynamics.
For example, developments on the market can be analyzed using economic theories, and the development of government policies using public administration studies. However, what “energy shortage” may mean on the market (e.g., upward movement of prices) is different from the political discussions on the subject in parliament. (A physicist might even claim that energy is a conservative entity and can therefore not fall short.)
The theories compete for the explanation, but the observable instantiations can no longer be expected to “verify” or “falsify” them unambiguously, that is, without further interpretations. The theoretical distinctions have to be elaborated and operationalized precisely so that observations can be made relevant. Otherwise, the observables tend to remain constructs of other disciplines, and can only be imported as metaphorical references.
When the reflexive discourses proliferate in terms of the analytically distinguished systems under study, what then remains as a role for a single and overarching “sociology”? Is an overarching discourse at the level of society still possible and needed? Urry argues that societies have grown apart as national societies, and that the study of these different societies from the perspective of an emerging global society provides a new role for sociology “beyond societies.” The global level is then considered as a next-order system and not as another dimension of the social system.
From the perspective of complex systems theory, national systems can be considered as retention mechanisms or niches of the interacting dynamics among, for example, science, industry, and governments. However, these various subdynamics also entertain their own international relations. Various levels of integration can then be expected to solve (and have solved organizationally) what evolutionary economists have called “productivity growth puzzles” (Nelson & Winter, 1975).
Integration can be achieved subnationally (e.g., at the level of a region), nationally or supra-nationally (e.g., the European Union). The construction of the European Union provides us with an empirical example of an emerging integration that proceeds differently in various dimensions and at different speeds. For example, the introduction of the Euro has changed Europe’s monetary integration. Monetary integration, however, can be distinguished from economic integration (Leydesdorff & Oomes, 1999; Leydesdorff, 2000).
The European system thus demonstrates how functional differentiation stimulates a process of self-organization of a next-order system’s level from within the system. The national systems on which the EU rests can be reconstructed in the present by partially abstracting from the particularities of their specific histories.
The subdynamics of the time dimension
Chapter Five of Urry’s study is entitled “Times.” The structural notions of national societies as scapes, networks, and regions are here combined with a discussion of different orders of time. As noted, “time” is part of the concept of fluxes because of the nominator of dx/dt. The author argues that complex systems theory and the natural sciences have recently developed notions of time other than “clock-time.” These new notions have been reflected by philosophers (Mead, Whitehead, Heidegger), but have not sufficiently been elaborated into new sociological metaphors. Urry formulates (at p. 123):
“Overall then the social sciences continue to employ incorrect models of how time is conceived of within the natural sciences, and they have neglected notions from within ‘science’ which could well be relevant to a reconfigured sociology seeking to overcome the division between the physical and social worlds.”
This chapter also provides an introduction into the relevant literature from complex systems theory, but the summary is highly eclectic. For example, the functions of differentiation in the network for coping with increasing complexity in its environment—that is, along different eigenvectors of the network system—is completely ignored. The ‘scapes’ are not further analyzed in terms of their structural properties and how these allow for the canalization of the various fluxes. The fluxes can be expected to contain different time dimensions in the interacting domains.
For example, the political system updates in four-year election cycles, while economic cycles have a different pace. Urry, however, focuses on how these different clocks and dimensions are integrated in social life. Whereas he distinguishes the possibility of reconstructing time instantaneously into a temporal order different from “clock time,” the various orders of time are studied as integrated in the phenotype. “Glacial time” is distinguished as a supra-individual time horizon because glaciers move beyond the individual experiences of a single generation.
“Clock time,” “instantaneous time” and “glacial time” structure the time dimension. However, the order of “instantaneous time” operates in the present by reconstructing the past (and the future) as a reflexive expectation. Note that only reflexive systems are able to make the reconstruction. Clock time can be provided with a naturalistic and/or historistic interpretation, but instantaneous time refers to a system that instantiates the time horizon reflexively.
While reflexivity was previously attributed only to individual minds, the post-modern perspective attributes reflexivity also to discourses. “Clock time” can then be considered as the result of a specific set of social institutions that was generated, for example, when the railway system was introduced. “Instantaneous time,” however, has become prevalent during the ICT revolution because all communication is now time-stamped. Historical processes that formerly took a long time can be reconstructed instantaneously and from a variety of perspectives.
When the instantaneous order of time prevails in the communication, one is increasingly “able to abstract from the human experience and the rhythms of nature” (Rifkin, 1987, at p. 15; cf. Nowotny 1989; Negroponte, 1995). Using instantaneous time, one obtains a global perspective along the time axis. This global perspective reconstructs the clock-time perspective that is historical and embedded in the (e.g., national) institutions. Different time horizons refer to analytically distinct systems of reference.
Urry continues his discussion with what the global reconstruction means for the definition of communities and citizenship that live historically. His unit of analysis remains human (and non-human) agency at the nodes, whereas the systems-theoretical perspective focuses on the network operations, that is, communication at the links. The focus of his narrative thus shifts back from the complex systems perspective to more traditional issues of sociology: what do these developments mean for living people and their relations with their natural (non-human) and social environments?
By foregrounding the observable phenomena, the more abstract formulation in terms of fluxes of communication is backgrounded. However, the narrative provides a wealth of metaphors for describing globalization and its possible effects on inter-human and human/non-human relations. Among other things, Urry wishes to argue that sociology is constrained by the metaphors available for describing these relations.
From sociology towards a socionomy
As noted, astronomy emerged during the Scientific Revolution as part of the new (mechanistic) philosophy. Might Urry’s orientation towards complex systems theory allow for a next step “beyond sociology,” that is, towards a socionomy? The author suggests so by implying that complex systems theory enables us to introduce a new set of metaphors into the social sciences. However, Urry does not wish to evaluate metaphors in terms of what precisely they help to explain or not, and to what extent.
The new metaphors of complex systems theory are used to enrich the description of a set of problems that have been defined from within the tradition of sociology. The focus remains on “sociology beyond societies,” and not on a “socionomy beyond sociology.” The metaphors are based on analogies and not elaborated into analytical distinctions that can be entertained as hypotheses.
For example, Urry argues that within sociology the structure/action dichotomy (Giddens, Habermas, Münch, and others) can be abandoned on the basis of the insights of complex systems theory. Change does not necessarily refer to (human) agency, because structures can change endogenously as a result of interactions among fluxes. However, this insight is not further discussed analytically: networks can only change endogenously if there are imbalances at interfaces that lead to interactions and disturbances.
The network analyst would like to know why these imbalances emerged, how they are generated, and under what conditions they can be reproduced. This type of questioning would require a mathematical conceptualization of the subject under study (e.g., in terms of eigenvector and frequency analyses) that Urry avoids. Instead, the author replaces the methodological dichotomy of structure and action (Giddens, 1979) with the epistemological one of humans and non-humans, as in “actor-network theory.”
In “actor-network theory” technologies can impose their own agency on the world based on previous investments (“stabilizations”) in them. Should one then not distinguish between social networks of reflexive communications that are able to provide instantaneous meaning to these technologies (by rewriting their meaning), and heterogeneous networks (including non-humans) which have been stabilized in historical time (and are therefore potentially available to be rewritten)? In actor-network theory, “humans” are black-boxed as “actants” taking part in the networks in a mode similar to non-humans. Their specific capacity for constructing instantaneous time both individually (that is, psychologically) and through the use of communication (e.g., ICT) is not addressed.
How are “humans” related to the networks in which they relate? Are they related as bodies, as psyches, or as social representations? Urry mentions that humans can also be important in a network by being absent. Does one always need the human body, or can one sometimes consider only the representation that covers the file? A medical doctor may need the body for physical examination, but does the other person need to be physically present in a scientific discussion? How can “humans” be represented differently as bodies, as agencies that provide meaning, and in interactions among systems of communication?
The shift towards a socionomy would require not only a different vocabulary, but also a further abstraction of the subject of sociological analysis. The social network does not exist in real life like a biological system, but it develops evolutionarily. Society contains a cultural dynamics with the characteristics of another evolution. The complex system of social coordination is instantiated in the events that happen to occur, but which could have been otherwise.
In other words, the social system can be analyzed in terms of a phase space of possible configurations, while the observable states inform us about the trajectories of the system that happened as events in the state space. The selection mechanisms, however, cannot be retrieved inductively from the positive instances. The instantiations inform us about these mechanisms by translating the observations into discourses.
The hypothesis of a “missing link”, for example, assumes the specification of an ex ante expectation already at the level of biology. The analysis of cultural evolution, however, has first to specify an equivalent of “natural selection.” Can the biological metaphor be used for the sociological distinction? What are the selection mechanisms of cultural evolution, and how do they operate when producing the social phenomena that can be observed?
One does not expect a single selecting mechanism to operate in society. Markets select, but other selective mechanisms are simultaneously at work. Neither markets nor other selection mechanisms can be considered as biologically given. Markets can be internally differentiated (e.g., in terms of labour markets, consumer markets, etc.), and the various dynamics compete as mechanisms of social coordination.
All these mechanisms (e.g., markets, legal systems, etc.) have historically been constructed, but once in place they may increasingly begin to feedback as selectors on the variations produced historically and provided by the other subsystems. Cultural evolution proceeds under the selection pressure of all the subsystems of the social system upon one another.
The positive instances can inform our hypotheses concerning the question of these selections, but only on the condition that the selection mechanisms have first been specified. The model of a socionomy is hypothetico-deductive because the selection mechanisms cannot be induced on the basis of the observable “facts.” The latter provide us only with the observable variation.
From biological metaphors to sociological diaphors
The complexity of the interacting subdynamics makes socionomy a fascinating discipline in its own right: the various selection mechanisms operate upon one another, sometimes leading to resonances and therefore potential stabilizations. At other times stabilizations can be selected for globalization. Globalization can be considered as a selection mechanism on stabilizations. Stabilization integrates historically, while globalization differentiates in instantaneous time. Selection, however, remains a negative operation that can only be observed by implication, that is, on the basis of the specification of a selection mechanism.
What is differentiated and what is integrated? The analogy with the biological model should not obscure the analytical differences (David, 2000, at p. 133). When it is not life, but meaning that is considered to be autopoietic, the communications are differentiated and integrated with reference to generating and reproducing inter-human understanding. If an integration problem is solved, an observable manifestation may be instantiated, for example, as institutional agency.
As cultural evolution develops, the social coordination mechanisms increasingly reorganize the agents and their aggregates carrying the actions in terms of roles. A specific “culture” can thus be developed. The distributions of actions—that is, the variation—can be studied as instantaneous networks and/or as temporal sequences. The uncertainty in these distributions, however, can be provided with other meanings in the interacting domains so that the systems can further develop in terms of interactions among different dimensions.
For example, when a new drug is brought to the market, this event can have completely different meanings for the patients who may find a cure for their illnesses, for the pharmaceutical industries which supply to the market, or for the biomedical scientists who shaped the knowledge base of this product but perhaps have already moved on to their next project. Urry does not make these distinctions because he does not want “differentiation” to play a major role in his theorizing.
The self-organization of knowledge-based systems
“Differentiation” follows analytically from the concept of shaping networks in fluxes because the networks/scapes contain structures that can be analyzed in terms of different eigenvectors. The networks are more than one-dimensional because otherwise they would only be lines. Integration “aligns,” but differentiation is expected thereafter. Furthermore, all subsystems can be expected to tick with different frequencies.
From the perspective of a sociological theory of communication, the functionality of the differentiation can no longer be contained within a single system and its survival, as is the case in biological evolution theory (or in Parsons’s “action system”; Parsons, 1951). The differentiation remains uncertain both at each moment in time and over time. It can only be stabilized provisionally as an endogenous result of the reflexive maintenance of the multi-layered system of communicative exchanges in a complex environment or, in other words, its potential to self-organize the communication within the social system.
This self-organization takes place in the present by using the instantaneous time contained in the system as one of its subdynamics. The reflexive reconstructions drive the evolving system as its knowledge base. The latter, however, can only be defined at the level of the social system if it has become socially available and also institutionalized, that is, when it emerges within the social system as a specific form of communication.
Knowledge production organized in modern science and technology manifests this function. Science and technology continuously produce new discursive insights that can be used for the reconstruction of the social system and its subsystems. The socially available knowledge is contained in reflexive discourses which remain uncertain about their respective relations to the reflected system(s).
In my opinion, this reflexive turn in discourse analysis may have been the most important contribution of science studies during the last decades (Mulkay et al., 1983; Gilbert and Mulkay, 1984). It enables us to study post-modern society in all its complexity and changing forms of differentiation while keeping the empirical focus on the development of inter-human communication and its codification in discourses.
For example, the intellectual organization of the sciences in specialties and disciplines under specifiable conditions of cultural evolution sometimes leads to the reduction of the discourse to the specific jargon of a paradigm. The institutional layer thenceforth only carries the relatively independent development of the intellectual field. The next-order level of codification tends to take over control. “Humans” are involved in the further development of the paradigm as contributors to the discussion, but the relevance of their contributions is increasingly determined by the conventions governing the quality of the discussion. Therefore, the cognitive and communicative competencies of the contributors become crucial.
New codes of communication emerge as relevant systems of reference ex post. How the actors manage to provide their contributions physically or mentally ex ante is then increasingly left to the contributing “humans,” but is no longer a selection criterion relevant to the reflection at the network level. The network only processes representations in terms of their qualities, for example, by processing them in the form of texts and pictures. The representations can be validated and/or rejected using a variety of standards and codes.
The “autopoiesis” of the system of communications
Luhmann (1984) argued that “human consciousness” provides the only relevant environment for social systems of communications because these two media (communication and consciousness) allow for processing meaning in addition to processing information. The processing of meaning can change the processing of information with hindsight by rewriting the communication. This can be considered as an “autopoietic” or “self-organizing” process.
The systems of inter-human communication and human consciousness are “structurally coupled” in this process (Maturana & Varela, 1980). Because of this coupling the complexity of the operations can be made available mutually, albeit selectively. Unlike biology, however, the social system does not process “life.” The processing of “meaning” on top of the information being processed is what makes this system cultural. The volatility of the medium speeds up a cultural evolution on top of the biological one. From this perspective, all communications with non-human (e.g., biological) objects are mediated by reflexive communication.
Social systems can be considered as the plasticity of the complex medium among people. Intentional actions interact in this medium as communications, and the results of these interactions may begin to develop recursively. The codification of relationship with non-human entities is then possible. The medium can become differentiated and further codification can sometimes be stabilized in a paradigm.
For example, “gravity” and “oxygen” gained the status of natural givens during the 18th century. However, what the technologies and what natural things mean in social relations can always be reaffirmed, discursively reconstructed, and/or changed. From time to time, the systems of communication (e.g., scientific discourses) may go into crises in order to be reorganized in more viable formats thereafter (Kuhn, 1962).
Both the actions and the interactions develop recursively, and thus a non-linear dynamics of social communications is generated. When this complex dynamics gains in terms of its structure over time, forms of differentiation can be expected. Stabilizations function as retention mechanisms of the globalizing system. The system, however, can only be globalizing because it contains reflexivity and “instantaneous time.”
Society and national systems
In the countries of “the Atlantic rim”—as Urry calls these advanced industrial states—the differentiation has first been organized in terms of nation states versus capitalism during the 19th century. Urry identifies “societies” with national systems, whereas Luhmann—following the sociological tradition of Marx, Weber, and Parsons—considers “society” as the medium that allows for differentiation and reorganization at various levels.
From this perspective, society is not stabilized in a specific system a priori; it can be considered as the medium in which social meaning (as different from personal meaning) can be generated (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). The various (e.g., national) societies inform us about organizational solutions that have been generated historically, but that one may also be able to reconstruct. This reconstruction invokes a “knowledge base,” and the quality of the discursive insights available in this knowledge base can guide the reconstruction. To this end, socionomy can become a very practical science (Leydesdorff, 2001).
The crucial point is that the medium of communication has changed with the ICT revolution and that this change can be reflected theoretically as an advancement of our understanding of processes of social coordination. ICT has thus provided us with a focus on communication as the quintessential operation of social coordination and inter-human relationship. Communication both generates and reproduces meaning.
Communications and their codification can be measured algorithmically and analyzed using elaborations of the mathematical theory of communication (Shannon, 1948; Theil, 1972; Leydesdorff, 1995). For example, “science dynamics”—my own specialty—can be considered as a non-linear dynamics that endogenously generates reflection at the social level by interpreting observations about other observations.
Because of the current transition in inter-human and computer-mediated communications “all bets are off” for the emerging field of socionomy and social simulation. The historical metaphors of sociology were based on a naturalistic or historistic understanding of society as a given. Another set of possible recombinations has become available when the phase space is enlarged with globalization as another dimension of the social system.
This next-order complexity in the system provides an additional selection pressure on historical trajectories and thus potentially complicates the status of the observable dynamics. Unintended consequences of human actions can, for example, increasingly be expected because of the non-trivial machinery of reflexive social relations. However, it may be possible to reconstruct some counter-intuitive results using the algorithmic simulations and representations for a non-naturalistic understanding.
For example, the ozone hole, the greenhouse effect, the BSE-crisis, etc., can be considered as unexpected and unintended consequences of ongoing processes of industrial reconstruction. Both the generation of these problems and their control will increasingly be knowledge-based. Figure 1 summarizes my argument in a graphic representation: scientific codification reinforces the reconstruction of the “natural” phenomena on the basis of interactions among human beings. Unlike personal (e.g., tacit) knowledge, scientific knowledge is discursive and therefore to be attributed to the social system.
Knowledge-based technology and innovation become available at the level of an organization (Nelson & Winter, 1982). Human reflexivity and human practices are necessarily involved at the interfaces with the non-human environments, but in a distributed mode. The coupling of science and technology at the social level, however, provides the system of social reproduction with a control mechanism at the supra-individual and supra-institutional level. Whereas institutions can be considered as aggregates of actions, (scientific) discourses are based on the interaction terms. This codification of the reflexive interaction can be developed further into the knowledge base of an economy.
A schematic depiction of the self-organization of the knowledge base as a cultural evolution in the social domain (adapted from: Leydesdorff, 2002)
Why is this conclusion relevant for Urry’s argument? In his final chapters, Urry returns to what “civil rights” may mean in the dynamic scape of globalization. Like other actor-network-theorists he discusses giving rights to things, animals, and nature, in addition to a new formulation of rights for human beings. But what discourse is appropriate for the attribution of such rights? Who has the power to enact this “resurrection of nature.” National legislatures are obviously contained in the previous constellation of modernity (Bernstein, 1995).
Might the sociological discourse be intended to become the agency of such new formulations of rights? However, an analytical discourse mainly differentiates “diaphorically” in potentially conflicting positions. A stabilized actor would be needed for the imposition of specific conclusions. Would sociologists have to take on a Voltaire-like role of informing the principal agents? This would politicize sociology thoroughly and confuse the analytical dimensions of the field with normative metaphors to such an extent that one would retain only “theoretically informed policy analysis.” Or is the idea that the public, by being informed, can be mobilized as a revolutionary subject?
In my opinion, the alternative to these romantic ideas is to move towards a socionomy that uses metaphors as localizable frameworks of interpretation. The metaphors reflect discursively on the subdynamics that they specify heuristically, but the complex dynamics can only be grasped algorithmically. The study of complex dynamics continuously updates the discursive expectations because the results can be counter-intuitive. However, the expectations can only be specified ex ante using the reflexive discourses. Thus, the subdynamics of reflexive theorizing are functional for the reproduction of the knowledge-based system: the metaphors provide provisional frameworks for the appreciation in addition to contributing to the heuristics.
The ICT revolution has provided us with the substance of society, notably communication. “Things”, standards, etc., are co-shaping the communications recursively as codes in the representation. The “facts” have previously been stabilized as meaningful representations in inter-human interactions. Facts are subjected to cultural evolution because they can be reconstructed into artifacts. The “natural” is then increasingly replaced with the artificial.
The networks communicate in various dimensions, with different time horizons, but under historical conditions. The specification of the communication as hypotheses (“what is being communicated?”) raises the further question of how this communication can be indicated. In principle, the indicators are amenable to the measurement. Do the metaphors also provide the heuristics for a next round of empirical testing and updating?
Sociologists have hitherto interpreted the world in terms of metaphors. Socionomy can make a difference by testing sociology’s knowledge-based distinctions and by thus extending the knowledge base of the self-organizing system under study. The knowledge-based society which results, can be considered as the subject of an emerging socionomy.
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