This book provides current information about the many recent contributions of social systems theory. While some sociologists feel that the systems age ended with functionalism, in reality a number of recent developments have occurred within the field. The author makes these developments accessible to sociologists and other non-systems scholars, and begins a synthesis of the burgeoning systems field and mainstream sociological theory. The analysis shows not only that important points of rapprochement exist between systems theory and sociological theory, but also that systems theory has in some cases anticipated developments needed in mainstream theory.
Kenneth D. Bailey is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Methods of Social Research and Social Entropy Theory, also published by SUNY Press.
After providing a review of classical theory, this book carefully sketches the chief contributions of living systems theory, social entropy theory, autopoiesis, and other approaches. It shows that these approaches are without the flaws of earlier functionalism, yet they retain the breadth and integrative potential needed by mainstream theorists concerned about the threat of hyperspecialization and fragmentation within sociology.