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Communicative Competencies and the Structuration of Expectations: 
The creative tension between Habermas' critical theory and Luhmann's social
systems theory <> 

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

Complicity 7(2) (2002) in press; 
pdf-version at <> 


** apologies for cross-postings


Loet Leydesdorff 
Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR)
Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam.
Tel. +31-20-525 6598; fax: +31-842239111

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