Principles of Social Systems Thesis

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¶ … Social Systems

This work will develop perspectives and comprehension and understanding of how changes in the family system interact among part of the social system and will analyze, synthesize and compare and contrast information from classical literature related to the family as a system. The work of Fontaine (2005) states that there is a "growing tend in psychological science to conceptualize individual development according to a 'systems perspective'. This perspective advocates analysis across qualitatively distinct levels of functioning that are interrelated within the system of interest (e.g., individual development)." (Fontaine, 2005)

Systems Theory

The work of Greene (1994) states that systems theory "is a way of thinking in an organized, integrated way about the interactions among systems members." Fontaine states that system levels are hierarchically organized, providing a heuristics by which development is viewed as a continuum of ongoing interactive processes. Additionally stated is that systems theory "has long provided that real systems, such as biology, personality, and online cognitive processing are open to and constantly interacting with their surrounding contexts or environments. Through these ongoing exchanges, these open systems develop with new properties that are qualitatively meaningful and contribute to their overall evolutions. Systems are hypothesized to be constrained by certain parameters such as system-environment boundaries, the way that the system's hierarchy of levels is organized, and what information the system has at its disposal." (Fontaine, 2005)

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Fontaine relates that systems theory, "in contrast with reductionist perspectives that aim to simplify naturally complex entities (the human being) systems theory has acknowledged that these entities are highly complicated, open systems that are undergoing constant and internal and external change and that an understanding of the organization of the entity's parts as well as the interrelations of these parts, is essential to scientific study of the entity as a whole." (2005)

Thesis on Principles of Social Systems Assignment

The application of systems views have been on a broad basis and this is stated to be "for the purpose of strengthening macroscopic theories of individual development." (Fontaine, 2005) Fontaine states that "principles that are germane to systems theories may also be applied microscopically in order to focus on the functioning and development of a single level within a larger system. The selected level (or subsystem) of functioning may then be viewed as the comprising 'system' of interest whereby its qualitatively-distinct components and processes may, in turn be recast into an organized hierarchy of interactive levels of operating." (Fontaine, 2005)

The following figure illustrate the conception of the microscopic application of developmental systems principles to children's social-cognitive functioning adapted from the work of Fontaine (2005).

Figure 1

The Microscopic Application of Developmental Systems Principles to Children's Social-Cognitive Functioning

Source: Fontaine (2005)

Social Systems

Greene states in the work entitled: "Human Behavior Theory a Diversity Framework that a social system is "…a defined structure of interacting and interdependent persons that has the capacity for organized activity. As a social system develops over time, it takes on a unique character. Because of the high degree of interaction and interdependence among system members, systems theory proposes that a change in any one member of the system affects the social system as a whole." (1994) Greene additionally states that systems theory "suggests a number of concepts that may be applied to diverse family forms" and that the most important assumption of systems theory is that "each family has its own interlocking network of relationships with discernible structural and communication patterns." (1994)

The work of Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker (1995) entitled: "Social Systems" states that "systems theory is a catchall concept for very different denotations and very different levels of analysis. The word refers to no unambiguous meaning." The introduction of the concept of system into the making of analyses sociologically and doing so in lack of "further clarification" results in "an illusory precision" arising that is without any basis. (Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker, 1995) Resulting are controversies "in which one can only suppose or infer from the argumentation that the participants have different ideas in mind when they speak of systems." (Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker, 1995) Systems theory is stated to be "a particularly impressive super theory." (Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker, 1995)

Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker state that 'Systems theory' "is particularly impressive supertheory. Disputed though it may be, one cannot deny it a certain process of maturation. We attribute this to the fact that it can look back upon a history characterized by supertheoretical ambitions, centralizations of difference and paradigm change." (Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker, 1995) the question that asks if and how much this development "can be designated as 'progress' or has led to the accumulation of knowledge is a question more difficult to determine." (Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker, 1995)

Two fundamental changes are noted by Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker in systems theory and they state that "in neither case can one simply declare the concepts that have been handed down to be wrong or useless; they are extended by deliberate changes, transferred into the new theory and thus 'subflated'…" resulting in the new theory becoming "richer in content than the previous one; it achieves greater complexity" and it is this which explains its ability to "gradually become more capable of dealing with social phenomenon." (Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker, 1995)

Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker states that systems are bound to meaning and therefore they can "never experience or act in a manner that is free from meaning." (Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker, 1995) This is because there can be no break from the meaning to which systems theory is "inescapably implicated." (Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker, 1995)

Social Theory

Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker (1995) state that a social system (like all other temporalized systems, including life) exists as elements that are events, it is confronted at every moment with the alternative of ceasing or continuing. Its 'substance' continually vanishes, so to speak, and must be reproduced with the help of structural models. Action must follow on action -- or nothing will follow at all!" (Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker, 1995)

Structural changes are stated by Luhmann, Bednarz, Knodt, and Baecker to predispose self-changes. Just as structural changes take place in society and other social grouping so do structural changes occur in the family unit or group. Greene (1994) states that an assumption of systems theory is that "each family has a history of working together and maintaining homeostatis, its structure, energy exchange and organization -- or its system of relationships vary. Through repetitive change, each family develops distinctive patterns of roles, that is, differentiation of members by tasks. These patterns provide the family with cognitive maps about how to interact in reciprocal roles such as mother/daughter or husband/wife." (Greene, 1994) Over time, the family system, just as the social system results in the production of "subsystems, components of a system that are themselves systems." (Green, 1994)

Stated as basic assumptions of social systems are the assumptions as follows:

(1) a systems environment is an environment that is defined as outside the system's boundaries;

(2) Boundaries give the social system its identity and focus as a system;

(3) a Systems environment is more than just the sum of its participants' activities. Rather, a social system can be studied as a network of unique, interlocking relationships with discernible structural and communication patterns;

(4) There is a high degree of interdependence and internal organizational among members of a social system;

(5) All systems are subsystems of other (larger systems)

(6) There is an interdependency and mutual interaction between and among social systems;

(7) a social system is adaptive or goal oriented and purposive;

(8) a change in any one member of the social system affects the nature of the social system as a whole;

(9) Transactions or movements across a social system's boundaries influence the social systems' functional capacity and internal makeup; and (10) Change within and from outside the social system that moves the system to an imbalance in structure will result in an attempt by the system to reestablish that balance. (Greene, 1991d)

Family System & Development Theory

The work of Allen et al. (2007) states that there are several "basic assumptions" on which family

(1) Each family is unique, due to the infinite variations in personal characteristics and cultural and ideological styles;

(2) the family is an interactional system whose component parts have constantly shifting boundaries and varying degrees of resistance to change;

(3) Families must fulfill a variety of functions for each member, both collectively and individually, if each member is to grow and develop; and (4) Families pass through developmental and nondevelopmental changes that produce varying amounts of stress affecting all members. (Allen, et al., 2007)

The following diagram shows the components and the relationship of each to the entire system. This includes that:

(1) Family structure consists of the descriptive characteristics of the family. This includes the nature of its membership and its cultural and ideological style. These characteristics are the input into the interactional system.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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