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Soziale Systeme 17 (2011), He 1, S.

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Lucius & Lucius, Stuttgart

Juliane Riese

Functions, Communication, and Perception of Emotions in Luhmannian Theory: Emotions as Reflection Resources of Social Systems*
Zusammenfassung: Um die in der hesteher\den Literatur beschrieber\en Effekte von Emotionen in der sozialen Sphre in Luhmanns Theorie autopoietischer sozialer Systeme integrieren zu knnen, ist es notwendig zu zeigen, wie Emotionen - laut Luhmann psychische Phnomene - im Bereich des Sozialen relevant werden knnen, auch wenn nicht ber sie kommuniziert wird. Der vorliegende Aufsatz nimmt Bezug auf Weinhachs Person/Habitus-Konstrukt und schlgt vor, dass Emotionen via die Adresse von Personen kommuniziert und/oder via die Adresse von Habitus wahrgenommen werden knnen, wobei sie in beiden Fllen soziale Relevanz erlangen. Emotionen dienen der Absicherung der Autopoiesis organischer, psychischer und sozialer Systeme. Sie sttzen die Fortschreibung viabler sozialer Strukturen und regen die Vernderung solcher sozialer Strukturen an, die nicht mehr viabel erscheinen. Daher knnen sie als Reflexionsressourcen nicht nur psychischer, sondern auch sozialer Systeme gesehen werden. Diese Konzeptualisierung von Emotionen lenkt unsere Aufmerksamkeit auf die Bedeutung von Krpern fr das Soziale. Sie legt nahe, dass die Rolle der Emotionen zu idiosynkratisch ist, um Emotionen einem anderen Begriff wie dem der symbolisch generalisierten Kommunikationsmedien zu subsumieren. Sie erffnet weiterhin zustzliche Mglichkeiten der Integration der psychologischen und psychotherapeutischen Literatur in die Luhmannsche Theorie.

Emotions constitute a research deficit in Niklas Luhmann's theory of autopoietic social systems. At the same time, we know that emotions are highly relevant in the social sphere. Emotions direct our attention, influence how we see and understand situations we are in, and help us to evaluate situations and different options for action; they are indispensable for individual cognition and reasoning (Baecker 2004; Ciompi 2004; Fineman 1993; Gherardi 1995; Ortmann 2001; Weick 1995). Indeed it can be argued that emotions are what motivates us to decide in the first place, as well as to act and to interact socially (Ciompi 2004; Ortmann 2001). Emotions must therefore influence social interaction and be reflected in the social structure. Ciompi (2004) even speaks of emotional mentalities or logics directing the course of social sys-

I would like to thank Lars Arndt, Tore Bakken, the editors and two anonymous reviewers of Soziale Systeme for their valuable help in developing this paper.

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tems, collective affective Eigenwelten. Appreciation of the importance of emotions has induced researchers to develop conceptualizations to fill the gap in Luhmann's theory (see Baecker 2004a; Stenner 2005). This paper takes their work as starting point. The paper proceeds as follows. I first recapitulate the theoretical challenge of integrating emotions in Luhmann's theory by summarizing the most relevant elements of Luhmann's theory. My next step is to reflect on the functions of emotions for different types of systems - organic, psychic, and social. I assert that emotions play a major role for all three in that they provide a binding between all three. They ensure that each system type continuously answers to the demands of the other two, thereby ensuring that its own demands will be met in turn. I then turn to the particular challenge of how emofions influence social systems. If emotions motivate, evaluate, aid cognition, etc. on the individual level, how do they bridge the hiatus between the individual and social level to make themselves felt socially, possibly even to the degree that a social emotional Eigenwelt develops? The question is more pertinent and complicated in Luhmann's theory than in other frameworks because Luhmann categorizes emotions as strictly psychic phenomena and at the same time insists that biological, psychic, and social systems are operationally closed. This means that a psychic system can never determine the operations of a social system. How then can emotions, as a psychic phenomenon, become relevant for the operations of a social system? In the Luhmannian framework, social systems can communicate about emotions, i. e. communicate that persons have emotions, but it is less clear how the framework can accommodate social effecfs of emotions besides that. This paper presents a conceptualization which answers this particular challenge using Weinbach's theoretical construct which combines Luhmann's form Person and a systems-theoretic reformulation of the Bourdieusian habitus. It emphasizes perception of body signals as a pathway outside of communication that emotions take to produce social effects. Building on the combination of these ideas on the functions of and the pathways for emotions, I go on to suggest that emotions can be seen as reflection resources of social sysfems. For this, perception of emotions is vital, as it can be quicker and provide more comprehensive information than communication of emotions. Reflection of social systems is a central, yet highly abstract concept in Luhmann's theory. The suggestions put forward in this paper concretize it and make it more accessible to empirical research. I subsequently reflect upon the idea of emotions as reflection resources of social systems, exploring some of its consequences as well as other possible conceptualizations.

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I. The theoretical challenge: The blind spot in Luhmann's theory


Much has been written on the topic of emotions (Stenner 2005, 8), yet deflning what emotions are exactly is an unresolved problem in the literature. According to Ciompi, in the literature, affects are understood as both superordinate and subordinate concept, and are non-uniformly distinguished from both overlapping terms such as feeling, emotion or mood and from the concept of cognition. Ciompi chooses the concept of affects as his superordinate concept
and defines them as comprehensive psycho-physical states of temper of changing quality, duration and proximity to consciousness, which can become manifest on

different subjective and objective [...] levels at the same time. [...] [A]n affectfree state, in this perspective, is impossible, for one is always in some state of temper (2004, 28 f., my translation, emphasis in original).^ To explain why it is a theoretical challenge to integrate emotions in Niklas Luhmann's theory of autopoietic social systems, it is necessary to first recapitulate some elements of the theory. Building on the work of biologists Maturana and Vrela, Luhmann conceptualizes biological systems, psychic systems, and social systems as autopoietic. This means that they produce the very elements they consist of, themselves (Luhmann 1997, 66; Maturana/Vrela 1987).^ According to Luhmann, in the case of social systems, these elements are communications; in the case of psychic systems, thoughts (Luhmann 1984, 191 ff., 354 ff.). Following Wasser (2003), I change the latter assumption to state that the elements (or basic operations) of psychic systems are experiences (instances of Erleben). This is because the term Erleben can include both conscious and unconscious operations.^ It obviously includes emotions.* Both social and psychic systems are systems of meaning (Sinn); they draw their boundaries and connect their elements on the basis of meaning (Luhmann 1984, 92ff.). Autopoietic systems are operationally closed because their elements cannot be produced outside the system, but only by the system. As long as an autopoietic system continues to produce elements, and to connect them to the preceding elements, the system continues to exist; the moment the system loses the
1 I will come back to the terminology issue in the course of this paper. 2 The term psychic system is sometimes used interchangeably with the term system of consciousness. I choose the term psychic system because it can comprehend processes which are not or not completely conscious. I will come back to this below. 3 Wasser indicates that Luhmann did not object to conceptualizing experiences instead of thoughts as the elements of psychic systems. Cf. Luhmann; However one wants to define the elemental units of consciousness (we will leave aside the distinction between ideas and sensations and speak of thoughts)... (1995, 262; in the German edition Luhmann 1984, 355f.). My choice here is obviously related to my preference of psychic system over system of consciousness. 4 Fuchs (2004) seems to use Wahrnehmung (perception) in the place of Wasser's Erleben, however I find Wasser's term more comprehensive. Experience, to my mind, can include perception.

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ability to reproduce itself, it ceases to exist. There can be no direct transfer of elements between, or into, autopoietic systems (Luhmann 1997, 65ff.; Maturana/Vrela 1987). This means that autopoietic systems, in a specific sense, possess autonomy. For an autopoietic system, other (autopoietic) systems are part of its environment. For example, for a psychic system, both its own body and social systems are part of its environment. And the environment cannot determine the functioning of an autopoietic system. A body cannot directly influence a psychic system, a psychic system cannot directly influence a social system, etc. (Luhmann 1984, 59 ff.) This implies that information is a systeminternal quality; it cannot be produced by the environment and given to the autopoietic system (Luhmann 1990, 45). Yet, different types of systems depend on each other for their respective autopoieses. A psychic system can only emerge if there is an organic system as the material basis for it. Psychic systems need to make their complexity available for social systems to emerge and to reproduce themselves; the emergence of communications depends on psychic systems trying to communicate. Social systems, in turn, need to make their complexity available for psychic systems to form and develop (Luhmann 1984, 290; cf. also Brten 1988; Stenner 2005). This co-evolutionary mutual dependence has resulted in organic, psychic, and social systems being structurally coupled. This means that the structures of the different systems, having developed in co-evolution, are adapted to each other in such a way that one system can cause perturbations in another. These perturbations will be discussed in more detail below (Luhmann 2005; Stenner 2005).^ However, again, whether or not an autopoietic system takes notice of such perturbations from its environment, or what information it produces about them, is dependent on the system itself, and cannot be determined from outside. Emotions, in Luhmann's theory, are strictly a psychic phenomenon. According to Luhmann, emotions serve an immune system function for the system of consciousness. They take hold of body and consciousness^ when the latter's autopoiesis is endangered. Emotions are internal adaptations to internal problem situations of psychic systems, a self-interpretation of the psychic system with regard to the ability to continue its operations. Thus, sociology can discuss the communication of feelings, but not the feelings themselves (Luhmann 1984, 370 ff.; cf. Baecker 2004, 10). A social system cannot have emotions. Emotions
5 I here assume that there is such a thing as a given structural coupling between psychic and social systems due to their evolutionary history, meaning that a newborn infant is immediately able to make herself understood by other human beings. However, the structural coupling can be deepened (the structures of the systems can become better adapted to each other) through a continued common history. For example, a child growing up in an African country will probably understand that country's culture better than a child growing up in a European country. 6 An interesting inconsistency (Luhmann 1984, 370): How can emotions take hold of the body if they are strictly psychic phenomena? See further discussion below.

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cannot be elements of social systems (cf. Simon 2004). The same is true for organic systems. As a number of researchers have noted, this means that Luhmann's theory has a blind spot with regard to emotions, in the sense that it cannot see the affective or emotional aspects of the social world (see Ciompi 2004; Fuchs 2004; Staubmann 2004). As the next step, I follow the example of Stenner (2005) and Fuchs (2004) and hypothesize on the functions of emotions for different types of systems. This provides a basis for thinking about how to enable Luhmannian theory to see what it cannot see.

II. The functions of emotions for different types of systems Organic systems
Stenner (2005), building on Tomkins (1962), hypothesizes about the usefulness of emotions for organisms as follows. There are many organic processes which do not require activity of a structurally coupled system of consciousness. The digestive system knows how to process food without the human being in question thinking about it purposefully. But one can speculate that the evolution of something like consciousness became biologically necessary the moment the complexity of the environment overwhelmed the capacity of an organism to adapt successfully using only genetically encoded >knowledge<. Such a massive increase in noise is likely to occur the moment an organism becomes mobile since with mobility the environment alters radically with each move. (Stenner 2005,17) Organic systems have therefore developed the capability of knocking on the door of the emergent system of consciousness until the system of consciousness - or the psychic system - carries out some kind of activity to meet the organic system's needs, such as moving the body towards a source of food or away from a source of danger (Tomkins 1962, 31). Unlike digesting food or similar, these things cannot be done by the organic system without help from outside, in this case the psychic system. Following a suggestion by Stenner, I would like to make a distinction between emotions and affects here which to an extent conceptualizes them as two sides of the same coin. Affects are the organic manifestations, the signals from the body which knock on the door of consciousness. Emotions are the reports of this in the psyche, which take distinct subjective forms (Stenner 2005, 17).'^ Unlike Stenner, I would abstain from calling it distinct subjective forms of consciousness, because I would argue that emotions do not have to

7 Locating emotions at the border between organic and psychic systems in this way must of course be understood as an observation of an observer who observes both sides of the border, both types of systems. The same is true for locating emotions at the border between psychic and social systems, which wiU be discussed below. The border is thus an observation, it should not be ontologized.

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be consciously perceived.* I further argue that emotions do not have to be the other side of the coin of organic affects. They can also be psychic phenomena without trigger from the outside, or psychic reports triggered by a perturbation from the other side, namely from a social sysfem (more on this below). The function of emotions for organic systems, from this perspective, is that of securing autopoiesis of an organic system by binding the psychic system to it and inducing the psychic system to behave in such a way as to help the organic system. Obviously, at the same time, this secures autopoiesis of the psychic system as well, as it cannot exist without the material base of the body. This leads us to discussing the function of emotions for the psychic system. Psychic systems As mentioned above, according to Luhmann, emotions serve an immune system function for the system of consciousness. They take hold of body and consciousness' when the latter's autopoiesis is endangered. Emotions are internal adaptations to internal problem situations of psychic systems, a selfinterpretation of the psychic system with regard to the ability to continue its operations (Luhmann 1984, 370 ff.; cf. Baecker 2004,10). Luhmann (1984, 300 ff.) mentions the necessity of binding psychic systems to social systems, because social systems cannot emerge in a vacuum, they can only form if psychic systems try to interact with one another. Social systems depend on and presuppose the complexity of psychic systems. This binding, Luhmann says, can take the form of feeling. This notion is similar to Stenner's ideas on the binding role of emotions in the relationship between organic and psychic systems. Indeed Stenner (2004; 2005) suggests that the role emotions play at the border between psychic and social systems is similar to the role they play at the border between organic and psychic systems.^" I suggest that the key to integrating emotions in Luhmann's theory lies in the combination of the binding function and the function of securing autopoiesis. It has been explained that emotions secure autopoiesis of the psychic system by alerting it to needs of the organic system it depends on. But social interaction is also necessary to keep up the autopoiesis of the psychic system. Human beings depend on social relationships especially while still young and developing. Simon (2004) points out that in the evolution of the human spe8 This refers back to my preferring the term psychic system to system of consciousness (see above). 9 See above. I will continue to use the conceptualization that affects take hold of the body and emotions take hold of the psychic system. 10 Baecker (2004,10) refers to the same passages in Luhmann's work (1984, 302 f.; 1997, 408 f.), but he interprets Luhmann to refer to the possibility of seeing feelings, like values, as a connective medium (Verbindungsmedium). However, the way I understand it, binding here is not the same as connection. It is not communications that are connected; we are talking about how psychic systems are bound to social systems.

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cies, the ability to develop emotions makes the emergence of interactional systems probable (cf. also Ciompi 2004, 29). Thus, we can view emotions as alerting the psychic systems to demands of the social system, inducing the psychic system to behave in such a way as to ensure continued existence of, and continued participation in, social systems. The emotions felt for this would probably be those of a more complex type, such as shame (shame is not an emotion necessary to keep the body alive). These emotions would be the psychic reports on, or other side of the coin to, communication which signals danger or problems in social systems (shame is an emotion felt by someone who gets caught breaking social rules). Social systems The function of emofions for social systems is then simply the other side of the coin to what has been described above. Emotions can be seen as motivating psychic systems to make their own complexity available for the emergence of communication. They motivate psychic systems to bind their possibilities in such a way that social systems can develop their structures. To ensure autopoiesis of social systems, psychic systems' complexity needs to be provided to a reasonably reliable extent. Therefore, the binding of psychic systems must also be permanent to a degree. To put it differently, emotions need to motivate psychic systems in such a way that they attempt to communicate in a way which preserves existing social systems." Summarizing, the function of emotions is to ensure continued autopoiesis of the psychic system, but this includes ensuring continued autopoiesis of the organic system and social systems, because the psychic system depends on these.

in. Emotions in social systems: communication and perception


Emotions can exert influence in the social sphere in two ways. The most straightforward one is, of course, for communication to communicate about them. Luhmann understands communication to consist of a three-stage selection process of the act of utterance (Mitteilung), information, and understanding of the difference between those two. Information (following Bateson: a difference which makes a difference) is produced in communication; it is not given by one participant in communication and taken by another (Baraldi et al. 1997, 89 ff.; Bateson 1983, 488, 582; Luhmann 1984,193ff.). Communication about emotions would consist of these three selections. Thus, although
11 Preservation of social systems does not exclude change. Social systems are not fixed, but endogenously turbulent (Luhmann 1990, 36, my translation). I will come back to this point below.

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emotions are psychic phenomena, they can become information in communication. For example, it can be understood that A is angry, or B is happy. Communication about (or of) emotions - in other words, communication which informs about emotions - does not have to be verbal. For example, if someone smiles or frowns, the smile or frown is an act of utterance, and it is then understood (Verstehen) that the person is happy or angry (information) - voil, communication has happened. But as scholars such as Ciompi (2004) have noticed, the influence of emotions in the social sphere seems to be much more varied and comprehensive than this. In many cases, emotions seem to have social effects although there has not (according to Luhmann) been communication about them. Emotions show themselves without being communicated about, we sense them in others (cf. Simon 2004). There are different types of cases where emotions seem to exert influence in the social sphere although there has not been (verbal or nonverbal) communication about them. First, B might sense As emotions although A does not intend to let them be known to B. A might even try to conceal his emotions from B, but something gives them away - a blush for example. Second, B might sense A's emotions although A s not conscious of them himself - he might have repressed them, for example.''^ Third, while A might want to let B know his emotions, he might be aware of their incommunicability; communication would give them a meaning they do not have, or rob them of meaning (Luhmann 1984, 310; Fuchs 2004). A then has to trust that B has enough empathy, or that their relationship is intimate enough, for them to understand each other without communication; or A must resign himself to live with the incommunicability. While B can understand (Verstehen) that A has an emotion (information), what is lacking in these cases is an act of utterance, or even the intention to produce an utterance. According to Luhmann, communication depends on both information and utterance being experienced as selection and thereby distinguished from each other. One must be able to assume that the information does not go without saying, is not already obvious anyway, and that a specific resolution is necessary to utter the information (Luhmann 2005a, 111).^^ According to Luhmann, when information and utterance cannot be understood as two distinct selections, we are dealing with a mere perception (bloe Wahrnehmung).
12 An interesting special case could be the situation where A is unconscious of the emotion himself, yet nevertheless desires - also unconsciously - to communicate it to B. 13 Im Verstehen erfat die Kommunikation einen Unterschied zwischen dem Informationswert ihres Inhalts und den Grnden, aus denen der Inhalt mitgeteilt wird. Sie kann dabei die eine oder die andere Seite betonen, also mehr auf die Information selbst oder auf das expressive Verhalten achten. Sie ist aber immer darauf angewiesen, da beides als Selektion erfahren und dadurch unterschieden wird. Es mu, mit anderen Worten, vorausgesetzt werden knnen, da die Information sich nicht von selbst versteht und da zu ihrer Mitteilung ein besonderer Entschlu erforderlich ist. (Luhmann 2005a, 111)

Functions, communication, and perception of emotions in Luhmannian theory It is of considerable importance to adhere to this distinction between communication and perception, although, or precisely because, communication offers rich possibilities for accompanying perception. But perception, to begin with, remains a psychic event without communicative existence. It is not, just like that, connectable within what is happening in communication. [...] It is [...] intransparent for the system of communication and for every other system of consciousness.^* (Luhmann 2005a, 111 f., my translation)

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Thus, emotions can become information in another's psychic system as a result of perception without any communication having happened. When B has understood that A is happy or angry, he might attempt to communicate with A about it. Or communication between them might change, compared to how it was before B had this information, without the emotion being explicitly addressed in communication. Perception is a non-communicational pathway which emotions can take to become relevant in the social sphere, to produce Ciompi's emotional contagion, and the like. Following Weinbach, I suggest to use the - originally Bourdieusian - term habitus to denote this pathway. Weinbach argues that the perceptions of what bodies are like, are part of the social sphere, even if they remain outside of communication. Sociality uses the (social) body for orientation. The perception of a person's body determines social expectations towards that person (you don't expect people in wheelchairs to walk up stairs, even at first sight) (Weinbach 2004a, 55 f.). Bourdieu originally conceptualizes habitus as constituted by social laws embedded in the body in the form of dispositions (2001, 39). Schemes of perception, appreciation and action become em-bodied; habitus is the result of socialization, a somatized social relationship (55). The principles of the social order are transmitted from body to body, below the level of consciousness and discourse (95), and their anchoring in bodies explains their constancy. Habitus is thus also embodied history (Bourdieu 1990, 56).^^ Weinbach respecifles habitus so as to incorporate it in the framework of autopoietic systems theory. She makes it clear that she understands habitus as part of the social dimension. According to her, habitus serves the coupling of individually attributable, bodily performed social action and social expectations (2004a, 57). Habitus, therefore, is the other side of the Luhmannian form
14 Es ist von erheblicher Bedeutung, an dieser Unterscheidung von Kommunikation und Wahrnehmung festzuhalten, obwohl, und gerade weil, die Kommunikation reiche Mglichkeiten zu einer mitlaufenden Wahrnehmung gibt. Aber die Wahrnehmung bleibt zunchst ein psychisches Ereignis ohne kommunikative Existenz. Sie ist innerhalb des kommunikativen Geschehens nicht ohne weiteres anschlussfhig. [...] Es bleibt [...] fr das Kommunikationssystem ebenso wie fr jedes andere Bewutsein intransparent. (Luhmann 2005a Ulf.) 15 For Bourdieu, the biological level, the level of consciousness and the social level are not as clearly separated as they are for Luhmann. I will come back to this below.

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person, the side that can be perceived by psychic systems (see also Weinbach 2004b). Person, in Luhmann's theory, is the form that serves the structural coupling of psychic and social systems. For a social system, a person is an address in communication. It is the form with the help of which the social system observes the individual. Luhmann calls persons a token for ezgen-behaviors of social systems in the sense Heinz von Foerster intended (von Foerster 1984; Luhmann 2006, 82f., 89ff.; 2005). For the individual, on the other hand, person makes it possible to experience social restrictions, to observe how it is treated as an address in communication (Luhmann 1984, 325 ff.; 2005; see also 1993). Habitus, in Weinbach's conceptualization, is a form which serves the same functions, albeit not as an address in communication, but as the address for that which is socially relevant but not communicated. Naturally the true emotion in the psychic system in question remains intransparent for both other psychic systems and the social system. The psychic system is a black box for other systems. Only the psychic system having the emotion can experience the fullness of the emotion. Yet via perception (habitus) and/or communication (person), Alter's emotion can become a perturbation for Ego and for the social system. It is reasonable to think that the perception of emotion via habitus, without communication, is fuller, closer to the real emotion, than the communication about an emotion. Paraphrasing Fuchs (2004,103), we can say that emotion, as a sign, signifies that an experience cannot be signified completely and that the incompleteness is important. Parts of the emotional experience escape communication. But seeing the experience in others might induce us to empathize, mirror the feeling, relate to it. Perception of emotions has an advantage over communication of emotions with respect to speed and immediacy. Ego may be quicker to discern an emotion in Alter than lter is in producing an utterance. And Ego may discern an emotion in lter although lter is trying to conceal it, or even unconscious of it himself, or cannot communicate about it. In the next section, I discuss how this helps emotions to serve the maintenance of social autopoiesis.

IV. Emotions as reflection resources of social systems


It has been said above that psychic systems need social systems to ensure their own autopoiesis, and vice versa. Emotions bind psychic systems to social systems and thus contribute to both psychic and social autopoiesis. Emotions motivate psychic systems to attempt to communicate in a way which preserves existing social systems. We can now add to this that there may also be emotions which merely get perceived, but also help to bind psychic systems to social systems and to preserve social systems for psychic systems. For example, a baby may not purposefully communicate her emotions, but the parents perceive them and act accordingly.

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This helps us to develop a clearer picture of a concept which has a very central place in Luhmann's theory, yet is highly abstract and difficult to grasp for our imagination: the concept of reflection in social systems. Reflection, according to Luhmann, happens when a system refers to itself with the help of fhe distinction between system and environment. The system observes itself as a confingent unity in an environment and is thus, potentially, able to compare this unity with alternatives. This is a special achievement, not something we can expect to happen all the time (Luhmann 1984, 601 f., 617 ff.; Baraldi et al. 1997, 154 f.). It is difficult for us (our psychic systems) to imagine what this kind of higher-order observafion looks like in a system consisting solely of communications. We rather automatically associate reflection with thinking (cf. Wasser 2003, 18). But it is the very distinction Luhmann makes between social systems and psychic systems, which makes his theory useful for settings where therapy of social systems is attempted (Simon 2000). The thoughts about emotions offered above make it easier to develop a mental picture of reflecfion in social systems without giving up on this distinction. Via emotions, the social system can make use, for the purposes of its own autopoiesis, of psychic systems' ability to process informafion independently of the social system. Communication cannot perceive, and it cannot process information other than in terms of ifs own structures. Communication is unable to see whether it is viable or not. It may fail to communicate about emerging threats (cf. Luhmann 1990). However, psychic systems can perceive things outside the reach of a social system, and can form an opinion about the viability of the structure of a social system. Because psychic systems depend on their social systems for their own autopoiesis, they will develop emotional reactions concerning the perceived degree of viability of the social system. Emotions may signal that the structure of the social system is viable in the environment and functional for mainfaining organic and psychic autopoieses, in other words, that the social system is doing fine and should continue like this. In other cases, emotions may signal that the social system is threatened in some way (cf. Ciompi 2004). Such threats may emerge on the organic level (threats to survival of bodies), or on the psychic level (the social system is not fulfilling psychological needs, for example). Thus, emotions can either signal that everything is OK, and thereby support reproduction of the existing structure of the social system. Or they may trigger contradiction, the communication of rejection, if communication of a social system gets too far away from what psychic systems perceive to be sustainable.^^ Luhmann speaks of the immune function of contradiction, which brings with it the possibility of the system changing to new communicational
16 This argumentation is compatible with Ciompi's (2004) Affektlogik: Ciompi says that emotional energies can organize a social system in a certain way, until increasing emotional tensions provoke an abrupt bifurcation, a switch to a different pattern when it is no longer possible to cope with a situation the usual way.

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meaning. Contradiction can help the social system to protect itself with the help of changes against rigidifying into repeated, but no longer environmentally adequate, patterns of behaviour (Luhmann 1995, 371 f.). Emotions have a somewhat paradoxical function with regard to uncertainty here. Luhmann (2006, 186) sees uncertainty as the most important resource of the autopoiesis of the social system. Emotions can be complexity reductors and help to absorb uncertainty, if they signal that the social system should just continue reproducing, go about business as usual. But they can also trigger movement, uncertainty, new possibilities for the social system (see also Luhmann 1984, Chapter 9). Both types of emofions are signs of commitment and binding of psychic systems to the social system, because if psychic systems just gave up attempting to communicate every time they did not like something about the social system, social autopoiesis would become next to impossible. To fulfill their immune function for social sysfems, emotions can make use of both communication and perception. Emotions can become subject of communication and signal the viability or otherwise of the social structure in that way. But it may sometimes be quicker and more useful that emotions merely get perceived, and, as perceptions, become relevant for the social. It may be an indication of this that organizations find fhat some problems, disagreements or misunderstandings seemingly can only be solved if people meet and interact in person. It might simply be impossible to pick up certain vital information via (written) communication. It follows that a social system which wants to reflect on its own structure - an organization undergoing planned change, or a family in a therapeutic setting - must take into account the emotions its members' experience. Emotions signify reasons why current structure is adequate in the environment. But they also signify potential dangers, reasons why the structure is no longer sustainable. A social system which is able to communicate about the emotions experienced around it, and to create an awareness of them, may succeed at reflecting on potential gaps between its actual structure and the structure that would be necessary. In consequence, it may be able to change purposefully for the better. This of course is merely paraphrasing what family therapists and organizational consultants have long known (see for example Kahn 2003; Stein 2001; Vince/Broussine 1996; Watzlawick 1978). Proceeding from the above hypotheses on the role of emotions in the co-evolution of organic, psychic, and social systems, we can view emotions, though they are psychic phenomena,
as reflection resources of social systems in Luhmann's theory. This, too, is analo-

gous to the psychic sphere: In psychotherapy, individuals are frequently asked to acknowledge, and reflect on, their emotions, because these are important signals about relationships, etc.^^
17 See the discussion of the functions of emotions for psychic systems above.

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V. Reflecting on emotions as reflection resources I: The habitus concept and the role of bodies
To reiterate: Bourdieu's habitus is understood to mean social laws embedded in the body in the form of dispositions (Bourdieu 2001, 39). The principles of the social order are transmitted from body to body, below the level of consciousness and discourse (95). Luhmann differs from writers such as Bourdieu and Foucault in that he insists that the social does not get inscribed in the body. Instead, in Luhmann's framework, the social can shape the psychic system and in turn the body in a process of co-evolution (Becker 2005). The habitus concept can therefore not simply be imported into Luhmannian theory in its original form in which no sharp lines are drawn between the biological, psychic and social sphere; it needs some reformulation (Weinbach 2004a; 2004b). When using the habitus concept in the systems-theoretic form suggested by Weinbach, the idea that organic, psychic, and social systems are operationally closed can be maintained. At the same time, complementing our notion of communication, using the form person, with perception of habitus is an acknowledgement of the importance of bodies. It provides opportunities to develop a more comprehensive picture of their role. There is a tendency in Luhmannian theory not to devote a lot of attention to the body (Becker 2005; see also Biermann 2007). However, it is hardly a matter in dispute that bodies are not merely some sort of negligible organic substrate of the social, but influence and are influenced by the social in various ways, particularly in interaction. In the Luhmannian framework, the relationship between social and organic systems is special in that it depends on the psychic system as an intermediary. The social system and the psychic system are structurally coupled, and the psychic system and the organic system are structurally coupled in turn. Using its ability to perceive, the psychic system fllters out those external events, including organic processes, that become relevant in communication (Luhmann 1997, 113 ff.). In the other direction, the social system cannot address the demands it has on bodies directly to bodies. They must be understood by psychic systems, which can then attempt to direct their bodies in the required ways. However, clearly, perception of habitus - socially relevant bodily actions and characteristics outside of communication - can also produce information in psychic systems, which then influences communication. On the other hand, perception of habitus can motivate individuals to change their bodily actions. Here we might actually be able to insert a Bourdieusian element into Luhmannian theory: Because psychic systems perceive the way we do things with bodies, they adapt the way they direct their bodies accordingly, possibly even unconsciously. This can for example apply with regard to gender differences, the context in which Weinbach develops the systems-theoretic habitus concept in the first place. This is not the same as saying, in contradiction to

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Luhmann's assumptions, that the social gets inscribed in the body. Rather, it is an acknowledgement of the fact that bodies can co-evolve with the social structure, even if communication is not happening at all times. Vogd (2005, 108), who also combines habitus with the framework of autopoietic systems theory, sees habitus, in a systems-theoretic empirical analysis, as the embodied memory of past interactions. Vogd's conceptualization is different from Weinbach's in that he understands habitus as structural coupling of the social system, the psychic system and the biological body (102). He argues that one can use structural coupling, interpntration, symbiotic media, co-production or co-evolution as semantic operators denoting an empirical complex whose internal functioning must remain underdetermined as emergent structures are always contingent (106f.). How the structural coupling (or co-evolution, etc) works in a particular case can then be established empirically through analyzing that case. Vogd's argument is that Bourdieu, Luhmann, or Maturana all remain vague in their explanations of the issue at hand, but that introducing the idea of habitus allows us to explore the interfaces between body, psyche, and social from a systems-theoretic perspective without too many predeterminations. While Vogd's conceptualization is clearly - and consciously - less detailed and concrete than Weinbach's, I see its particular value in that it emphasizes the eminently empirical character of systems theory, urging us to live up to it. This empirical character is something it has in common with Bourdieu's framework, together with a dynamic view of its subject (through a focus on practice and operations, respectively) (Nassehi/Nollmann 2004). Vogd and Weinbach both demonstrate that empirical observations through a systems-theoretic lens can be enriched by also paying attention to bodies and perceptions of bodies. This should apply particularly with regard to understanding processes of reflection in social systems, if we take the above conceptualization of emotions as reflection resources seriously. Observing the emotional signals of habitus in interaction will contribute to understanding why social systems change and how they notice external events which are relevant to their autopoiesis. The highly abstract concept of reflection in social systems thus becomes more empirically concrete for a human observer, who is subject to his or her own systemic limitations.

VI. Reflecting on emotions as reflection resources II: Emotions as symbolically generalized communication media or symbiotic mechanisms?
Simon (2004) suggests that emotions should be regarded as symbolically generalized communication media (cf. also Baecker 2004). Symbolically generalized communication media are special structures which secure probability of

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success for communication, that is, they make it probable that the selection made by one person involved in communication, is accepted by another. They become necessary because in modern society, the coupling of a selection on the one hand and the motivation to accept the selection on the other hand is rather improbable. Luhmann sees the following as symbolically generalized communication media: power (or power/law), scientific truth, money (or property/money), love, art, values (1981; 1997, 316ff.; Baraldi et al. 1997,189ff.). My objection to Simon's suggestion is that emotions do not necessarily make acceptance of a selection more probable. They can do this - if there is emotional fit. But if one, for example, suggests a selection in a state of fury, does this necessarily motivate the other to accept that selection? Emotions can even make the rejection of a selection probable, make dissent probable. However, I see parallels between what has been said above on the functions of emotions and Luhmann's elaborations on the functions of symbiotic mechanisms, the development of which is required for some symbolically generalized communication media. Symbiotic mechanisms, according to Luhmann, are mechanisms of the social system which organize its relationship with its organic infrastructure. Via symbiotic mechanisms, the social system can activate and direct organic resources, and make interferences from the organic sphere processable in the social sphere. Thus, physical violence is the symbiotic mechanism of the symbolically generalized communication medium power; sexuality is the symbiotic mechanism of love. Violence, sexuality and other symbiotic mechanisms gain a symbolic importance over and above their physical importance. They are results of the fact that meaning (Sinri) production and communication cannot ignore their organic basis (Luhmann 1981a): The counterpart [to symbiotic mechanisms] on the level of organic processes would be [...] something like blushing, quickening of the heartbeat, activation of organic reserves, sexual arousal and so forth as reaction to certain social situations (Luhmann 1981a, 242, Footnote 5, my translation). I see one possibility in viewing emotions as symbiotic mechanisms of the symbolically generalized communication medium values. Values, according to Luhmann, provide a common basis for the reproduction of communication. If it is correct that emotions bind psychic systems to social systems and alert the former to the latter's demands, it is reasonable to suggest some kind of relationship between emotions and this common basis. Because values are quite abstract, more or less everyone can agree on them (nobody opposes freedom), yet for the same reason, they do little to direct actions (one might do many different things in the name of freedom). Values have no binary code and no subsystem in society, like for example money does. They are a less developed symbolically generalized communication medium (Luhmann 1997, 340 ff., 408f.; 2005a; Baraldi et al. 1997, 207ff.). It can be argued that positive emotions (pride, contentment, etc.) will be felt when one meets the values of society, and/or feels that others act according to

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them. Negative emotions (shame, fury) signal that values have been ignored or violated. Yet values are sufficiently abstract that A might be furious with B for (in A's view) not adhering to a certain value, while B does not feel ashamed in the least for doing what he did, or even claims that his actions supported the very value A says has been ignored. Indeed, the above conceptualization of emotions as reflection resources of social systems may be compatible with this. Changed feelings towards an issue may bring about and/or indicate a change of values in society when the old values can no longer sustain the social system (for example when our aftitude towards soft drugs becomes more tolerant). Reflecting on what we deem to be really important in life (our values), both on the individual level as in psychotherapy and on the collective level, can change the way we feel abouf things. From this perspective, appeals to rationalize and de-emotionalize heated debates about timely issues that are going on in society may be beside the point. They may be interpreted both as ignoring the fact that values are too abstract to determine actions, and as not appreciating that emotional work is necessary for reflection and change. Conceptualizing emotions as symbiotic mechanisms for the symbolically generalized communication medium values is consistent if one sees values as overarching other symbolically generalized communication media, or a connective medium between fully functioning communication media and the rest of society (Luhmann 1997, 409). One might argue for example that the political and juridical system function using the symbolically generalized communication medium power/law, but if a situation occurs that is without precedent and not described in the law, a decision will have to be taken with the help of referring to society's values (such as human rights, or tolerance). Power and law may be seen to be based on the values embraced by the society in question. One might then feel the emotion fear (and exhibit the physical reaction of quickened pulse and sweating) when one breaks the law, because one knows that physical violence (a jail sentence, or in more extreme cases torture) can be the consequence of it. However, a problem with seeing emotions as symbiotic mechanisms is that Luhmann sees emotions as psychic phenomena and symbiotic mechanisms as belonging to the social system. Luhmann himself (1997, 408) says that the value medium lacks symbiotic symbols. Ultimately, it may be the best solution to accept that emotions and the role they play for organic, psychic, and social systems are simply too complex for them to be subsumed under a different category. Exploring the parallels between emotions and symbolically generalized communication media, emotions and symbiotic mechanisms, etc is helpful in developing our notion of their functions. Yet in the end we may have to acknowledge that emotions are a unique phenomenon, and grant them a unique place in systems theory.

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VII. Outlook
The above idea of emotions as reflection resources in Luhmann's theory can help to connect that theory more with the psychological literature. A social system can waste a lot of fime and resources talking about the factual side of problems if it doesn't pay attention to the underlying emotions (Gnther 2004). This is where themes like organizations as institutionalized forms of (psychological) defence (Simon 2004,124, my translation), that is, communication for the sake of avoidance of emotional awareness, and for the sake of repression, come in. It is difficult to integrate such themes with Luhmann's theory, because he banished emotions and other psychological phenomena so strictly to the environment of his social systems, speaking only in passing of such things as psychoanalysis (Luhmann 2005,140 f.; see also 1984, 328).^* But the reception of systems theory in family therapy (Simon 2000; Willke 1999) indicates that there are potentials here to be realized (cf. Galliers et al. 1997). One issue which obviously is important in this context is the question of how to integrate the idea of different degrees of consciousness of contents with Luhmann. Luhmann's (2005, 140 f.) suggestion to see consciousness as either medium - unconsciousness - or form - consciousness - seems to me unsatisfactory. Unconsciousness is more than, or different from, the loose coupling of possible states of consciousness (compared to the strict coupling of actualized meaning elements which would be consciousness).^^ It is necessary to work this out more thoroughly, building on work such as Wasser (2003). With regard to the notion of unconscious contents, Weinbach's person/habitus construct can be particularly useful. Certain contents - such as emotions may be repressed, but nevertheless conveyed via perception of bodies, without any one individual being conscious of it. Could it even be possible to include in the framework of Luhmann's theory such a thing as the collective unconscious, transferred via habitus? We also know from Luhmann that social systems block certain observations and produce certain blindnesses in order to be able to function at all (for example, the judicial system cannot answer the question of the basis on which it decides what is legal and what is illegal; Baraldi et al. 1997, 131 ff.). Can we integrate this knowledge with issues such as that of taboos (things which could be talked about but mustn't) and that of mystification (a process by which Ego makes it impossible for Alter to see a conflict, in order to protect Ego's own psychological defenses; Laing 1976) in
18 Indeed reflection in Luhmann's theory may be such a highly abstract and theoretical concept which is hard to grasp for our imagination, precisely because the theory is underdeveloped with regard to emotions. 19 Als Medium wre das Bewutsein dann die lose Kopplung mglicher Bewutseinszustnde [...]; als Form wre Bewutsein dann die strenge Kopplung aktualisierter Sinnelemente, die als Gedanke ausgewhlt und als Struktur erinnert wird. (Luhmann 2005,140)

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social systems? Whatever the answers to such questions may turn out to be, I hope that the theoretical suggestions put forward in this paper will be of some help in producing them.

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