The International Center for Sociocybernetics Studies Bonn (CSSB) was founded 2008 and grew out of the Fraunhofer Institut für Intelligente Analyse- und Informationssysteme (IAIS). It is part of the Association “Cultures of Knowledge” (“Wissenskulturen e.V.”) and has activities in Germany, Colombia, UK, Italy and México. The research focus of the center is the application of systems thinking and cybernetic principles in order to analyse and handle social phenomena regarding their complexity and dynamics. The following aspects can be emphasised that may be seen as characteristic of our research approach:
- Systems: Research interest focused on handling complexity. A systemic view is an observation attempting to trace the diversity of interaction in reality instead of analytically isolating individual causal relations and exploring them in their entire
depth. Systems are defined by a certain form of distinction from their environment.
- Processuality: Cybernetics “treats not things but ways of behaving. It does not ask ‘What is a thing?’ but ‘What does it do?’” (Ashby 1956). It is not the nature, the properties, the materiality of objects that forms the centre of its interest but their forms of operation.
- Reciprocity: It is not causality but the mutual influence of dynamic self-regulating systems that research focuses on. With a cybernetic approach, one has opted for the examination of the basic forms from which the internal order of a system results rather than for observing individual properties.
- Self-referentiality: To Heinz von Foerster, this is the fundamental principle of cybernetic thought. He speaks of “circularity”, referring to all concepts that can be applied on themselves, processes in which a state ultimately reproduces itself. (v. Foerster 1993, p. 73). Luhmann adopts this concept under the headword “self-referentiality”.
- Information: System processes, especially the relation between the system and the environment, are understood as “informational processes” in which contingencies exist and selection occurs rather than as necessities in the sense of a strict causality. Information is often referred to as a function of the organisation of systems. Some natural scientists regard information as a “third factor” next to matter and consciousness (Weizsäcker 1974) or matter and energy (Stonier 990).
- Regulation: The purposeful influencing of social phenomena always amounts to an attempt to intervene in highly complex
systems with self-organising (dissipative) structures. These systems respond to attempts to regulate them coming from their environment only on the basis of their internal structure. Thus regulation has to handle the phenomenon of the determinedness of systems’ structures.
The International Center of Sociocybernetics Studies Bonn (CSSB) is carried by the Association “Cultures of Knowledge” (Wissenskulturen e.V.), which is domiciled in Bonn, the International UN-City in Germany. It was founded 2008 and focuses its activities on the phenomena of societal transformation and historical change of knowledge cultures. The work is predicated on the premise, that any social change, in whatever societal area, corresponds with a change of culture of knowledge. Insofar all societies are “knowledge societies” in the sense that any society has to emerge forms and techniques to proceed important decisions regulating its knowledge: Which knowledge should be kept, which can be deleted. And which form this could be done?
As knowledge culture is indicated the complexity of generation, storing, access and dissemination of knowledge. Insofar an observation of all these components of knowledge cultures should be helpful to get a deeper insight into the social quality of current societal transition in general.
To read more about these activities please go to the Website of the Wissenskulturen e.V.