Page Header Logo
TEI of Athens eJournals

Culture as an interface between communication and comparison. The concept of culture from the systems theory perspective

Anastasia Hournazidi


In his systemic theory, Niklas Luhmann identifies culture with a society’s memory.In particular, memory is the difference between a recollection and memory.Memory, that is, culture, is not anymore a kind of archive collecting and storing ideas, knowledge or events, but more than that, a symptomatic access to information.This leads to the generation of a culture in abundance and polymorphism in cultural presence.Luhmann speaks of a dynamic memory, a potential culture and a complex variety, subject to the will for communication. This means that culture is communication, and in particular, specific forms of communication.Culture is no longer an object, but a point in which several prospects meet, the prospects of an observer.The observer’s aim is not to interpret, but to compare the object with the prospects of other observers.In this way we are led to the phenomenon of the culture’s cross-section and doubling, characterizing the semantics of the modern era.Each cultural occurrence is doubled and exposed to comparison.Via the process of difference, we observe a transition from culture’s ceremonial consideration, based on the procedures of repetition and imitation, to a culture of communication, based on observation and comparison.Acts, events, myths and documents are no longer monuments, but structures of communication, standards of meaning, describing society.


System Theory, Nature of Culture


Luhmann, Niklas: Soziale Systeme. Grundriß einer allgemeinen Theorie, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 1984.

Luhmann, Niklas: Die Kunst der Gesellschaft, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 1995.

Luhmann, Niklas: Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft, 2 Bände, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 1997.

Luhmann, Niklas: Gesellschaftsstruktur und Semantik. Studien zur Wissenssoziologie der modernen Gesellschaft, Bd. 3, Frankfurt am M.: Suhrkamp 1989.

Luhmann, Niklas: Das Recht der Gesellschaft, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 1993.

Esposito, Elena: Soziales Vergessen. Formen und Medien des Gedächtnisses der Gesellschaft, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 2002.

Baecker, Dirk: Wozu Kultur, Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos 2000.

Baecker, Dirk (Hg.): Niklas Luhmann Einführung in die Systemtheorie, Heidelberg: Carl-Auer-Systeme 2004.

Foucault, Michel: Archäologie des Wissens, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 2002.

Baßler, Moritz: Die Kulturpoetische Funktion und das Archiv. Eine literaturwissenschaftliche Text-Kontext-Theorie, Tübingen: Francke 2005.

Burkart, Günter und Runkel, Gunter (Hg.) : Luhmann und die Kulturtheorie, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 2004.

Luhmann, Niklas: Soziologische Aufklärung, Bd. 1, Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag 1981.

Nassehi, Armin: Die Differenz der Kommunikation und die Kommunikation der Differenz. Über die kommunikationstheoretischen Grundlagen von Luhmanns Gesellschaftstheorie. In: Beobachter der Moderne. Beiträge zu Niklas Luhmanns “Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft“, hg. von Uwe Schimank und Hans-Joachim Giegel, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 2001, S.21-42.

Neufend, Jennifer: Kultur – von der Einheit zur Differenz. Der Kulturbegriff der modernen Gesellschaft aus der Perspektive der Luhmannschen Systemtheorie, Saarbrücken: Suhrkamp 2010.

Full Text: PDF

DOI: 10.18780/jiim.v1i2.3055


  • There are currently no refbacks.

The application for presenting electronic journals TEI developed within subproject 2 "electronic publishing service" the Act "Development Services Digital Library of TEI" and financed by the operational program "Digital Convergence", NSRF 2007-2013.