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


  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.”

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