There are people in sociology who do good empirical work because they have good intuition and are keen observers. The majority, however, select their topics of interest within the framework of critical theory. Critical theory today has many offshoots, but its basic thrust remains much as Marx first formulated it, and is even more incorrect today. I know of what I speak because I once held it in high regard and even taught it. No longer.
In the course of my work I came across another theoretical perspective, the systems theory developed by the now deceased sociologist Niklas Luhmann. This theory is extremely powerful and rich. With it sociology can finally claim its place as a true science and not be a substitute for theology or moral philosophy. It is a systems theory like no other, if only because a system is defined as the difference between itself and its environment. Its fundamental postulates put it on a par with biology, psychology, and physics. Applied to society, the theory comes up with startling insights. For one, sociology is not made up of people, but of ways of organizing difference. Applied to modern society, it affirms that its organizing principle is not domination but functional differentiation. Unlike critical theory, systems theory does not claim to know where society is heading, nor does it assign to history a purpose. Its task is to observe, and ours is to observe as best we can.
Luhmann wrote prolifically on so many subjects - law, art, love, risk, to name a few. His writing is often highly abstract, but once mastered it directs the student of society to research questions usually ignored and to insights as illuminating as they are contrary to what passes for wisdom in the field. Most sociologists and most students of sociology have either not heard of him or if they have, dismiss him with ideological disdain. This is a major mistake. The writings you will find in this section are devoted to correcting that error. Some essays deal with theoretical aspects of Luhmann’s work. Others offer an analysis of different aspects of modern society using his theory. You may consult these essays for free, but the books you must purchase.
The first book, Understanding Modern Society: Why Luhmann Matters, or The End of Left and Right, offers a unique understanding of modern society using Luhmann’s analysis. It is unique even for adepts of Luhmann because it makes crystal clear even to the lay reader how our society works and how it is usually misread.
It is my contention that the mess that liberal democracy now finds itself in is a direct result of the bad theory taught in the social sciences of our universities. The gobbledygook taught there spreads like a cancer throughout our society, carried by those who drink in the words of their professors to the jobs they eventually obtain. There they repeat the false stories they have learned and so teach others the incorrect way to understand what goes on around us. They do it in the media when they report the news and create the films and tv series we watch. They do it in the halls of government and the niches of bureaucracy when they formulate the policies that govern our lives. They do it when they teach our children in schools and when they demonstrate in public for what they consider noble causes. But they are wrong, and it is time to set the story straight. The sociology section of this website is devoted to this task.