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On absence: society’s return to barbarians

Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Andreas (2008) On absence: society’s return to barbarians. Soziale Systeme, 14 (1). pp. 142-156. ISSN 0948-423X

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Official URL: http://www.soziale-systeme.ch/hefte/2008_1_zus.htm...


The problem of social exclusion is dealt here through the lens of a particularly radical social theory, that of autopoietic society by Niklas Luhmann. Here, exclusion is included in society, no longer as an issue for care, integration and therapy, but as a mechanism to show the importance of the visibility of exclusion. The inclusion of exclusion in autopoiesis is a far-reaching step that demands a revisiting of the concept of autopoietic society. This article proposes a radicalization of the concept on the basis of an acknowledgment of the impossibility of communication with the excluded. This acknowledgement conditions society from within. It is built upon the Luhmannian description of Barbarism as the included exclusion, and is further conceptualized as its excess, as a 'space of absence'. Within autopoiesis, absence is described as an aporetic rather than a paradoxical structure, a memento vanitas that irritates the system from within, constantly reminding it of its limitations.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Autopoiesis, law, society, social exclusion, exclusion, inclusion, aporia, barbarians, Luhmann, systems theory
Research Community:University of Westminster > Law, School of
ID Code:6561
Deposited On:27 Apr 2009 11:10
Last Modified:27 Apr 2009 11:10

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