Response to Nadia Stoyanova Kennedy & David Kennedy. Communicative Competencies and the Structuration of Expectations: the Creative Tension between Habermas’ Critical Theory and Luhmann’s Social Systems Theory


  • Loet Leydesdorff University of Amsterdam



  I elaborate on the tension between Luhmann’s social systems theory and Habermas’ theory of communicative action, and argue that this tension can be resolved by focusing on language as the interhuman medium of the communication which enables us to develop symbolically generalized media of communication such as truth, love, power, etc. Following Luhmann, the layers of self-organization among the differently codified subsystems of communication versus organization of meaning at contingent interfaces can analytically be distinguished as compatible, yet empirically researchable alternatives to Habermas’ distinction between “system” and “lifeworld.” Mediation by a facilitator can then be considered as a special case of organizing historically contingent translations among the evolutionarily developing fluxes of intentions and expectations. Accordingly, I suggest modifying Giddens’ terminology into “a theory of the structuration of expectations.”

Author Biography

Loet Leydesdorff, University of Amsterdam

Loet Leydesdorff (Ph.D. Sociology, M.A. Philosophy, and M.Sc. Biochemistry) reads Science and Technology Dynamics at the Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR) of the University of Amsterdam. He is Visiting Professor of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (ISTIC) in Beijing, Honorary Fellow of the Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of the University of Sussex, and at the Virtual Knowledge Studio of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has published extensively in systems theory, social network analysis, scientometrics, and the sociology of innovation (see for a list of publications at ). With Henry Etzkowitz, he initiated a series of workshops, conferences, and special issues about the Triple Helix of University-Industry-Government Relations. He received the Derek de Solla Price Award for Scientometrics and Informetrics in 2003 and held “The City of Lausanne” Honor Chair at the School of Economics, Université de Lausanne, in 2005. In 2007, he was Vice-President of the 8th International Conference on Computing Anticipatory Systems (CASYS’07, Liège). Address information: ASCoR, Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands;  email:;






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