Instability, Complexity and Cultural Change

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Autopoiesis is a theory of complex forms of life, of divergence and instability. Its methodology and vocabulary reflect the volatile and restless nature of our times. It takes the hyper-differentiation ushered by the powerful changes in our technical and communicative lives, and the erosion of hegemonic centers in culture and self, and shows how these forces push us into modes of existence – of risk and promise – far beyond semblance of familiarity.


“Scholarship, as Max Weber once put it, is the willingness to make endless calculations without any assurance that an idea will dawn. This work by Dr. Gila Hayim is exemplary scholarship that could prove a blessing to sociological social theory. Since the nineteenth century beginnings of sociology, and of modern social theory in the post-disciplinary sense, no question has been more besetting that of the fate of the individual in the strange complexity of urban societies. It is no accident that modern social theory counts among its classics a work that sought to resolve this question that bedeviled such classic social theorists as Durkheim, Weber, and Pareto. Dr. Hayim offers the reader a most convincing representation of Luhmann by uncovering the connections between his thought and that of others, including the French, even the regressive Americans, and she does so with care as to the details but also originality as to the promises of autopoiesis as the possible middle way between the individual and the societal ... Professor Hayim’s book, thus, provides a way to begin anew on the preoccupations of the last generation of thinkers, without ignoring what they have done. Hence, the exceptional quality of the scholarship – looking back with care in order to look to the present – future with imagination.” – (from the Preface) Professor Charles Lemert, Wesleyan University

Table of Contents

Preface by Charles Lemert
1. The Primacy of Communication in Social Autopoiesis
2. The Special Case of Modern Self-Thematization
3. Cultural Modalities in the Complex-Society: the Perfect Nihilist, the Comfort-Seeker, and the Re-Enchanter
4. The Comfort-Seeker
5. Re-Enchantment
6. Autopoiesis: A Theory of Individuation and Cultural Change
7. Intimacy as an Autopoietic System
8. Thematic Shifts: From Industrial to Risk-Society and the Modern Social Complex
9. Bifurcation, Autopoiesis, and Ethics of Interdependence

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