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Support for the System

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2009

Extract

So-called ‘general theory’, or ‘systems theory’, is now nearly friendless among political scientists. The charm it once held as an ordering framework for empirical research has given way to that of the economic models of the rational choice school. While the successor paradigm was self-consciously reacting against the ‘over-socialized’ conception of man underlying systems theory and political sociology in general, much of its broader appeal was founded on similar claims: the promise of a testable, empirical theory, and an aspiration to complete generality. Perhaps these two goals will turn out to be irreconcilable; there is some plausibility in the view that, in practical affairs anyway, the idea of a general empirical theory is a contradiction in terms. In this article, however, I wish to examine a problem for systems theory which is not due to this tension, one which has gone unnoticed, and which has survived the decline and fall of the research programme.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1985

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References

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65 I am grateful to Vernon Bogdanor, Keith Dowding, and the Editor and referees of this Journal for their helpful comments.