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The Sociological Observation of Society as a Whole

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What is society as a whole? Variations of this question have puzzled sociologists since the founding of the discipline. This article insists on the question's relevance and suggests that a viable solution lies in second-order observation of function problems in society, that is, of communication of disappointment with the function of a given system. Function problems concern all and refer to the relation between a function system and society as a whole. This construction and sharing of a common problem, and the observation of societal subsystems in light of the societal whole using the basic distinction of function, I argue, is a way in which modern society refers to itself as a whole, and of which I suggest we use the name problem community. This concept of the whole is presented after a thorough discussion of alternative approaches offered by sociology. This article concludes that the second-order observation of function problems may provide sociology and systems theory with a much-needed positive concept of society as a whole

Keywords: fragmentation; function; society as a whole; sociology; theory

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2020

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