Connection (Luhmann)

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In sociology, connection is a technical term from the systems theory of Niklas Luhmann and describes the self-made selection following a selection on the other side in a social encounter. These selections are related to each other.

The connectivity is the capacity of systems to ensure that further selections can be connected to one system. All social systems reproduce through communication (e.g. economic system or politics) or actions (medicine and educational system). This is only possible if the individual units can be connected to one another, which is achieved by a system-specific code that forms the basis of all communication as the central logic (guiding distinction) and makes it recognizable as belonging to the system. In the economic system, for example, the code pay / do not pay ensures that communications relate to themselves and can reproduce themselves, i.e. a new one is made for each payment. This works via the generalized communication medium of money, which links the last payment with the current one. If the money were no longer accepted, there would be no further payment and the system would have lost its connectivity. The ability to connect within a system is called self-reference , in contrast to external referential reference to the environment (world, other systems).

Luhmann developed the term at the suggestion of a Bielefeld colleague, the philosopher Jürgen Frese . In a section lecture at the Eighth German Congress for Philosophy in Heidelberg (1966, printed in 1967) entitled “Speaking as a Metaphor for Action”, Frese showed that it is fruitful to move away from the dominant models of action, work and consumption, and to add speaking as a model for action to use. Frese writes: “The most important achievement that the language metaphor brings to the elucidation of non-linguistic action is its ability to make the formation of rows explainable. If we summarize sentence and action to the neutral concept of the act that can be connected to other philosophemes, then we can ... say: The meaning of an act is the ensemble of possibilities given as a certain situation to connect further acts to this act; d. H. the meaning of an act is the diversity of connectivity that it opens up. ”This idea was taken up by Luhmann and further developed within the framework of his systems theory. Frese himself expanded it further as part of his teaching on forms.


  • Niklas Luhmann: Social Systems. Outline of a general theory. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-518-28266-2 .
  • Jürgen Frese: Speaking as a metaphor for action. In: Hans-Georg Gadamer: The problem of language. Eighth German Congress for Philosophy. Heidelberg 1966, Fink Verlag, Munich 1967, pp. 45-55.
  • Jürgen Frese: Processes in the field of action. Klaus Boer Verlag, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-924963-06-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. Frese 1967, pp. 50f.
  2. ^ Frese, 1985