Understanding Cryptocurrency

With the emerge of „Bitcoin“ since 2008 a new understanding of money arose which is a great challenge for Economic-Theory. Blockchain-Economy, based of experiences with Bitcoin says: Looking for a medium to solve the problem of the failing coincidence of wants at a certain stage of market-complexity, it was not in every case necessary to find a good which could play the role of an general equivalent to the complete world of goods on the market. It was sufficient and easier to account credits and debits of the actors of the market, and at certain point of time it was balanced. This idea turns the traditional understanding on the nature of money upside down: Money is nothing than a form of credit (or debit) represented by a special form of currency. So Money is a sign for a specific social relation. In this view Money is not a good, it is the system of credit account and their clearing that currency represents.

In his work „Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft“ Luhmann calls the attention on the fact, that in economics the concept of money is reasoned with the facilitation of exchange but doesn’t consider the medium, in which exchange take place. So – this is Luhmann’s consequence – there is no reason for sociologists to take over this initial point of the economic discourse. „Probably money was generated not with respect to its intermediate function for exchange but as a sign for unbalanced performance ratios, first probably in household economies.“ (GdG 348) Even if systems thinking Sociology is better prepared for the challenge of cryptocurrency there are open questions. Particulary for Luhmann’s Theory of Social Systems the question arise, if BITCOIN would modify the code in the sence, that a new media/form-difference could be dominant in the economic system of society.

Selected publications:

Paetau, M.: Bitcoin und die Provokation der “Blockchain-Economy”. Forum Wissenschaft, 34. Jg., Nr. 1 (Februar 2017), hrsgg. v. Bund demokratischer Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler e.V. (BdWi)

Paetau, M.: Money As a Medium/Form-Distinction: The Challenge of Blockchain-Economy to Luhmann’s Concept of Money As a Symbolically Generalized Communication Medium. 3rd ISA-Forum of Sociology, Vienna, Austria, July 10-14, 2014

Paetau, Michael: Bitcoin: The Emergence of Self-Organized Cryptocurrency.13th International Conference of Sociocybernetics, Zaragoza, Spain, June 29 – July 3, 2015


Beyond Belonging

“BEYOND BELONGING” is Laura Paetau’s dissertation project which investigates cultural and political self-representation in the context of theatre performances and performance art in Berlin. It focuses on how cultural agents who identify as Post-Migrants create cultural inter-spaces, inquiring which processes and negotiations of inclusion and exclusion based on power categories such as gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity can be observed here and how a sense of belonging is being constructed. It is assumed that in in post-migrant cultural representations identity constructions are drafted and played with. By examining the hybrid understandings of identity and cultural interspaces in Post-Migrant performances, it will be asked where and how these cultural interspaces interrogate and deconstruct institutionalized binary conceptions of identity and culture.


Steering of Transitional Justice. The question of civil societal’s democracy

Transitional Justice is a very high complex approach to achieving justice in times of transition from conflict and/or state repression. It needs a strong goal-oriented but also empathetic and flexible steering process, which has to achieve accountability and redressing victims, transitional justice provides recognition of the rights of victims, promotes civic trust and strengthens the democratic rule of law. But the adequate consideration of the complexity of all existing driving-factors is very difficult and requires usually a second order observation process by including a variety of social movements of civil society. But this requirement seems to be after all available experiences the weak point of transitional justice. The project focuses the case of Colombia, which is observed and discussed by the “Asociation Knowledge Cultures (Wissenskulturen e.V.)” since a couple of years. Since two years negotiations between the government and the FARC-Guerilla take place in Cuba’s capital Havanna and where it was agreed to realize a Transitional Justice Process starting in Spring 2016. The goal of our project is to observe this process and make a scientific analysis describing the weak-points and asking for solutions from a sociocybernetic point of view.

Selected publications:

Paetau, M: Post-Conflict in Colombia – A Sociocybernetic Observation on Complexity of the World Longest War. 14th International Conference of Sociocybernetics. Medellin, Colombia, June 20-23, 2017


Using Sociocybernetics to Understand Possible World Futures (completed)

This project explores how sociocybernetics can contribute to understanding possible world futures. Sociocybernetics is concerned with applying theories and methods from cybernetics and the systems sciences to the social sciences by offering concepts and tools for addressing problems holistically and globally. With its distinction between first order studies of observed systems and the second order study of observing systems, sociocybernetics provides a unifying epistemological and methodological conceptual framework. Within this framework, sociocybernetics accommodates a wealth of specialisms in the social sciences, ranging, for example, from the drivers and effects of technological development to sustainability to justice. The shared framework facilitates communication between social science specialisms and also between the social sciences, the natural sciences and the applied, technological sciences. A central concept in cybernetics is ‘governance’, the art of steersmanship. As conceived by Ashby, Beer and others, this art is concerned with the management of variety. How do we face the challenge of managing all the variety that makes up ‘possible world futures’?

Selected publications:

Scott, B.: “The global conversation and the socio-biology of awareness and consciousness”, Journal of Sociocybernetics, Vol. 7, No. 2, Winter 2009, pp. 21-33.

Scott, B.: “The Role of Higher Education in Understanding and Achieving Sustainable Development: Lessons from Sociocybernetics”, Journal of Sociocybernetics, Vol. 7, No. 1, Summer 2009, pp. 9-26.

Scott, B.: “The role of sociocybernetics in understanding world futures”. Kybernetes, 38, No. 6/2009, pp. 867-882.

Scott, B.: “Conversation, individuals and collectives: some key concepts in Gordon Pask’s interaction of actors and conversation theories”, Constructivist Foundations, 4, No.3/2009, pp.151-158.

Scott, B.: “Reflexivity revisited: the sociocybernetics of belief, meaning, truth and power”, Kybernetes, 35, No. 3-4/2006, pp. 308-316.

Scott, B.: “Cybernetics and the integration of knowledge”, invited chapter for Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, 2002, UNESCO.

Scott, B.: “Being holistic about global issues: needs and meanings”, Journal of Sociocybernetics, Vol. 3, No.1, Spring/Summer 2002, pp. 21-26.


Metamorphoses of Knowledge Society (completed)

The project takes the media-technology as an example to investigate the role of technology in situations of societal transition. That means highly complex historical situations in wich a society is partly changing its character so dramatically that observers later on will state that is no longer the same society that it used to be. Such structural changes of societies are very complex events, which are never attributed to single causes. Beside technology changes of many singular facts have preceded such structural caesuras as an effect to special circumstances, like poverty, lacks of democracy, requirements of the world market, economic growth or crisis, ownership structures etc.. In the project we are investigating the relevance of media technology for such societal breaks. Our hypothesis is that any structural change of society with caesuras of political and economical power are obliged to social structure of knowledge and the way in which knowledge is handled. Or, inversely expressed: caesuras of the mode of knowledge will force a more or less significant overthrow of economic and political dominance. 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 in which form this could be done? In a sociological discourse context – and anymore from a sociocybernetics point of view – it is not need to emphasise that society’s decisions on storing and communication of knowledge are not made by society’s own will. It emerges based on media-technology which is available, the current societal structure, and a lot of other variables which have to be described. The interdependency of these factors expresses the concrete complexity of a knowledge society.

Selected publications:

Paetau,M.: Transition of Knowledge Formation. Complexity, Difference and Emancipation. 8th International Conference of Sociocybernetics “Complex Social Systems, Interdisciplinarity and World Futures”, Ciudad de México, México, 23-28 June 2008

Paetau, M.: Media-Technology and the Structural Change of Knowledge Societies.Presented at the 7th International Conference on Sociocybernetics “Technology and Social Complexity”, Murcia, Spain, 18-23 June 2007.

Paetau, M.: Information Technology and The Long-Term Memory of Society. 5th International Conference of Sociocybernetics »Social Knowledge for the Contemporary World«, Lisboa, Portugal, July 26-31, 2004

Paetau, M.: Sharing Knowledge with Future Generations. Sustainable Development as an Inter-Generational Communication Problem. 18th International Conference Informatics for Environmental Protection »EnviroInfo 2004«. Geneva, Switzerland, October 21-23, 2004

Paetau, M.: Sustainable Development and Knowledge Society. XV World Congress of Sociology, Brisbane, Australia, July 8-13, 2002 (Reserach Commitee 24: Environment and Society). : 2002

Paetau, M.: Space and Social Order. The Challenge of Computer-Mediated Social Networks. Journal of Sociocybernetics, Vol. 4, Spring/Summer 2003, S. 23-36


Sustainable Development (completed)

Auf der Basis des von uns 2002 in Zusammenarbeit mit mehreren Forschungseinrichtungen der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft entwickelten Ansatzes einer integrativen Betrachtungsweise der ökologischen, sozialen, ökonomischen und institutionellen Dimension von “Sustainable Development” wurden verschiedene Forschungsprojekte durchgeführt. Aufgrund der hohen Komplexität und Dynamik nahezu aller Fragen im Zusammenhang mit der Analyse sowie der Entwicklung und Durchführung von Strategien nachhaltiger Entwicklung zeigte sich die Nützlichkeit soziokybernetischen Denkens in eindrucksvoller Weise. Der Schwerpunkt der Arbeiten des Zentrums für Soziokybernetische Studien Bonn liegt vor allem auf strategischen Fragen zur Umsetzung des Leitbildes “Sustainable Development”, der Indikatorenbildung für konkrete Umsetzungen sowie der Durchführung empirischer Analysen.

Selected publications:

Kopfmüller, J.; Brandl, V.; Jörissen, J.; Paetau, M.; Banse, G.; Coenen, R.; Grunwald, A.: Nachhaltige Entwicklung integrativ betrachtet. Konstitutive Elemente, Regeln, Indikatoren. Berlin 2001: Sigma [cf. reviews]

Coenen, R.; Grunwald, A. (Hg.): Nachhaltigkeitsprobleme in Deutschland. Analysen und Lösungsstrategien. Berlin 2003: Sigma.

Brandl, Volker; Jörissen, Juliane; Kopfmüller, Jürgen & Paetau, Michael: Das integrative Konzept: Mindestbedingungen nachhaltiger Entwicklung. Grunwald, Armin; Coenen, Reinhard; Nitsch, Joachim; Sydow, Achim & Wiedemann, Peter (Ed.): Forschungswerkstatt Nachhaltigkeit. Wege zur Diagnose und Therapie von Nachhaltigkeitsdefiziten.. Berlin. Sigma, 2001, pp. 79-102

Brandl, V.; Grunwald, A.; Heincke M.; Jörissen J.; Rösch Chr.; Stelzer V.; Backhaus R.; Hennings W.; Keimel H.; Mertens J.; Meyer B. Chr.; Paetau M.; Rose H.: Ausgewählte Querschnittsthemen nachhaltiger Entwicklungedition. Coenen, R.; Grunwald, A. (Ed.): Nachhaltigkeitsprobleme in Deutschland. Analyse und Lösungsstrategien. (Global zukunftsfähige Entwicklung – Perspektiven für Deutschland, Bd. 5). Berlin. Edition Sigma, 2003, pp. 435-501

Brandl, V.; Grunwald, A.; Jörissen J.; Kopfmüller J.; Paetau M.: Das integrative Konzept nachhaltiger Entwicklung. Coenen, R.; Grunwald, A (Ed.): Nachhaltigkeitsprobleme in Deutschland. Analyse und Lösungsstrategien. (Global zukunftsfähige Entwicklung – Perspektiven für Deutschland, Bd. 5). Berlin. Edition Sigma, 2003, pp. 55-82

Fleischer, T.; Grunwald, A.; Dippoldsmann P.; Fugger W.-D.; Grutsch M.; Karger C.; Nitsch J.; Paetau M.; Poppenberg A.: Nachhaltigkeitspotenziale von Schlüsseltechnologien. Coenen, R.; Grunwald, A (Ed.): Nachhaltigkeitsprobleme in Deutschland. Analyse und Lösungsstrategien. (Global zukunftsfähige Entwicklung – Perspektiven für Deutschland, Bd. 5). Berlin. Edition Sigma, 2003, pp. 353-434

Paetau, M.: Sustainability Networks and the Emergence of Knowledge. 3rd International Conference on Sociocybernetics. Leon, Mexico, 2001, June 25-30. : 2001

Kopfmüller, J.; Brandl, V.; Jörissen, J.; Paetau, M.; Banse, G.; Coenen, R.; Grunwald, A.: Nachhaltige Entwicklung integrativ betrachtet. Konstitutive Elemente, Regeln, Indikatoren. Berlin 2001: Sigma