Principles of Organizational and Social Systems


The author’s research objectives in these studies of social systems in KAM III (breadth component) is to gain better understanding of various theories of social development as applied to the importance that should be given to parental involvement in a child’s holistic education.

Societal development is necessary in order to promote and enhance the education and behaviors of children. Social development occurs through physical means but the inner being can be only developed through experience and parental involvement.This paper is essentially a critique of theories by Ludwig von Bertalanffy (General Systems theory/open systems), Niklas Luhmann (Grand theory) and James Grier Miller (Living Systems theory) where it applies the perspective of “lack of parent involvement” to measure its impact on student achievement.

The Breadth component of KAM III addresses social systems theory in the chosen subject of “parental involvement in social development of children”. In order to achieve desired results from present research, the following theorists have been selected to scrutinize this study in detail: Ludwig von Bertalanffy (General Systems theory/open systems), Niklas Luhmann (Grand theory) and James Grier Miller (Living Systems theory). Each theorist has made their own unique contribution towards the body of knowledge comprising education of students and the role of parents as catalyst.

Aims/Objectives of Research

As a doctoral scholar in the field of educational systems, the author has attempted to critique historical perceptions in this subject area through contemporary perspective of “lack of parental involvement and its effects on student achievement”. It consists of an organized collection of ideas meant to expand knowledge and world-view on this subject theme –something also enshrined in the copious amount of research presented by renowned social theorists such as Bertanallfy and Driesch (Boss, 1993).

Both researchers above presented their own theoretical ideas in their field which will be interpreted and applied towards earlier theories developed by Bertlanffly, Luhmann and Miller. The major concepts are subsequently analyzed, compared, contrasted, evaluated and later integrated into depth and application stages using the knowledge and understanding from present research.

The education of small children should be seen from the perspective of “motivation” which plays a very important role in developing literacy as well as giving them the confidence and ability to navigate through desired learning curve. Parents and/or guardians, are at the first level of a student’s emotional and spiritual connectivity which aids higher learning outcomes because of the difference parents make in their immediate environment.

The author’s perspective on the precise role that has to be played by parents in steering the course for their children towards creating, nurturing and developing their educational abilities – also contains additional inputs from development psychology. The array of knowledge areas which exist in this domain include: motor skills and other psycho-physiological processes, problem-solving capacity, conceptual understanding, language acquisition, moral and virtual identity (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2000).

Here is a brief summary of aims/objectives for Breadth of research in this dissertation:

  1. Analyzing three theorists (Bertlanffly, Luhmann and Miller) with a focus on lack of parental involvement and the effects on student achievement. This, is done through a perspective on development psychology in children.
  2. Analyzing, comparing and contrasting the theories of lack of parental involvement as detrimental to the outcome of student achievement and behavior by referencing three theorists above.
  3. Evaluating these theorists in terms of their contribution in the educational environment and participation in the field of knowledge related to chosen study.
  4. Validating above findings through original literature evidence in this chosen field (three authors plus secondary researchers).

Theoretical Framework

Complex systems in nature tend to operate in specialized frameworks which govern their overall mechanism towards everyday social situations to be analyzed academically e.g. the attention given to lack of parental involvement and the impact it produces on education of students in a school environment, the focus of our present research. A number of social systems theories tend compatible with mainstream sociological theories which seek to identify the vital constituents of various interdependent systems (Bailey, 1994). In order to fully understand present research requirements, here is a brief overview of social systems theories given by authors selected for our discussion.

Ludwig von Bertalanffy (General Systems theory)

The founder and proponent of the General Systems theory, Ludwig von Bertalanffy was an Austrian-born biologist who made extensive contribution to Science as a systems theorist in its diverse applications. The General Systems theory (GST) as a response to Descartes’ scientific method in which the latter had proposed that a system could be broken down to a number of individual components so that each component is analyzed as an independent unit and then integrated in a linear fashion to describe the totality of the system (Walonick, 1993).

Bertalanffy suggested that both assumptions were inherently wrong and each component in a system is identified by its interdependence with other components and can be readily described by the non-linearity of their interactions (Walonick, 1993).

In GST, one of the main assumptions about complex systems comprise their order – an expression for man’s general need for imagining his world in a pattern/sequence within an unordered chaotic universe (Skyttner, 2001). This is essentially a fundamental departure from traditional Science which Bertalanffy felt was too “closed” to breakthrough ideas (Bertalanffy, 1969). In his pioneering scholarly treatise on systems theory, he developed the theory of “open” systems as against traditional Science closed-system methods which rely on the second law of thermodynamics (Bertalanffy, 1969).

He was of the belief that “living systems” do not always show the property of steady-state closed systems and they quest for “order” and “stability” as against scientific theory of entropy/disorder (Bertalanffy, 1969). Giving the example of human beings who constantly seek to improve their social, financial and career prospects through every means at their disposal, Bertalanffy believed any academic study associated with human beings should take this “self-evident” fact into account (Bertalanffy, 1969). Bertalanffy’s radical theory has been ever since, bolstered by other theorists such as Bowler (1981), Litterer (1969) and West Churchman (1971). The list below sums up their efforts in general systems theory:

  1. Interrelationship and interdependence of objects and their attributes (Bertalanffy, 1969).
  2. Holism between different properties in a system
  3. Goal-seeking: Systematic interaction leads to fulfillment of some goals leading to equilibrium (Bertalanffy, 1969).
  4. Entropy: As against second law of thermodynamics, living systems when left to themselves do not create “disorder” but move towards “order” and “regularity”(Bertalanffy, 1969).
  5. Transformation process: All systems, in order to achieve order, endeavor to convert input variables into some pre-decided output (West Churchman, 1971; Bowler, 1981).
  6. Hierarchy and differentiation: Systems are defined by hierarchy and high levels of differentiation between individual components comprising the system (Bowler, 1981).

Bertalanffy’s works may lend itself to supporting this radical theory but the following viewpoints can be made against his central tenet:

  1. Bertalanffy was influenced by certain themes of life which have insufficient bearing on scientific parameters e.g. creativity, emotion, compassion etc. The mainstream school of reductionist philosphy (Bertrand Russell) demand strong cause-effect interaction mode to explain similar phenomena(Dawkins, 1976). Bertalanffy’s holistic approach in differentiating living systems from non-living systems has less support among members of the scientific community who do not agree with his premise that they should be treated differently (Dawkins, 1976; Pinker, 2002). According to select few psycho-analysts, the Bertalanffy appoach towards understanding human “social” relations is too simplistic and should not be held as justification for especially, medication purposes (Dawkins, 1976; Pinker, 2002).
  2. Also, contrary to Bertalanffy’s propositon that human beings tend to seek “order” as against mechanical systems which seek “entropy”, the author of the book The Selfish Gene (1976), Dr. Dawkins disagrees with Bertalanffy’s approach to differentiate living systems from non-living ones saying that “selfish expression” among human beings conveys an “individualistic” approach to their situation and not the “social context”, the latter still being governed by existing laws of the universe e.g. entropy in all living and non-living systems alike (Dawkins, 1976).

Despite these heavy contradictions in Bertalanffy’s work, it is worth appreciating his theoretical genius in various aspects of social theory. The general systems theory offers conclusive evidence on different aspects of human relations in a socialized context and has validity in real situations e.g. classroom teaching, sports coaching and other human motivational endeavors (Davidson, 1983).

Niklas Luhmann (Grand Theory)

A prominent German sociologist, Niklas Luhmann made a revision of the famous Grand theory originally conceptualized by his chief mentor Talcott Parsons (Luhmann, 1975). This theory mentions a grand, universal framework within which the trappings of modern society could be studied in a “modern”, “complex”, “abstract” framework within which complex problems ranging from politics to education could be explained (Luhmann, 1975). His theoretical framework is considered too difficult for everyone to understand but it mainly rests on the following features:

  1. Luhmann wrote in his treatise that the role of society was to continuosly evolve grand designs on sociology so it “could explain all observable phenomena taking place between human interactions” (Luhmann, 1975; Merton, Mongardini & Tabboni, 1997). This rests on the central premise that sytems are intrinsically complex and any attempt to understand the workings should be with the acceptance of the fact that the complexity cannot be removed (Luhmann, 1975; Merton, Mongardini & Tabboni, 1997).
  2. A core component of the Grand theory is what Luhmann calls the development of communications in a given systemm first from oral form to written form and then, from written form to higher forms (Luhmann, 1975). This development of communication takes place “inside” a system which is as against the universe surrounding it (Luhmann, 1975). This can be compared and contrasted with Bertalanffy’s General Systems theory which call for “open” systems which continuously interact with outside environment and components within the system. In contrast to Bertalanffy, Luhmann propositioned a “closed system” which is at odds with its surroundings and similar treatment (Luhmann, 1975).
  3. This closed system theory by Luhmann seeks to explain diverse phenomena using “reductionist” scientific model which is again contrasted with Bertalanffy’s ambiguous theory of interdependence (Robertson & Turner, 1991). According to Luhmann, each and every system has its own distinctive identity and if it fails to maintain that identity, it ceases to exist as a system and instead, submerges into its environment (Luhmann, 1975). According to his model for complexity in all universal systems, the single most objective of Grand theory is to divide systems into “reduced zones of complexity”; it must absorb vital information from surroundings and all the same, keep its identity intact (Luhmann, 1975). This filteration process is also called autopoiesis (Luhmann, 1975). Luhmann compares autopoiesis with functions of the cellular membrane in living organisms (Luhmann, 1975). In the cellular kingdom, the cell membrane offers selective filtering of particles from outside the system using processes such as diffusion and osmosis.
  4. Luhmann also somewhat differs from Bertalanffy’s model of “orderliness” as against “entropy” (Robertson & Turner, 1991). According to him, systems operate out of a “non-descript” environment where sub-systems build and integrate the whole system by selective communications – not necessarily with a pursuit to build and sustain “order” (Luhmann, 1975; Robertson & Turner, 1991). Luhmann’s model, in short, accounts for randomness and entropy in unambiguous terms. This is in keeping with his reductionist philosophy which is based on common scientific principles (Robertson & Turner, 1991). It must be kept in mind here while presenting his theory, Luhmann himself didn’t want to differentiate from Bertalnaffy’s vision.

Despite obvious concordance with reductionist, scientific methods, Luhmann’s theory has come under a volley of criticism from Piyush Mathur who dismissed his “complexity” claims as deliberately verbose and difficult to understand (Mathur, 2008). Luhmann was especially at odds with Juergen Habermas who dismissed his irreverence for “human participants” in a system as unjustified claims (McCarthy, 1978; Mathur, 2008). His belief was that a combined system cannot isolate itself from human elements which play a decisive role in influencing various parameters of the system (McCarthy, 1978). Modern authors like Mathur (2008) cherish his pragmatic vision and criticize Luhmann for ignoring the human element from the picture.

James Grier Miller (Living Systems Theory)

James Grier Miller, a prominent biologist, developed in 1978 what he called a general theory of living systems by applying an easy-to-understand extension on Bertalanffy’s General Systems theory (1969). According to Miller (1978), systems are generally deemed “open” and exchange matter and energy with their surroundings on a per-interaction basis. These are the main constituents of his Living Systems theory:

  • According to Miller (1978), living systems can be exclusively explained in terms of matter, space, time and energy. Information received by these systems are transmuted in different forms: signals, symbols, messages and patterns (Miller, 1978).
  • Systems can be divided into eight pertinent hierarchical levels: structure, process, level, echelon, type, suprasystem, subsystem, transmissions and steady state (Miller, 1978). These eight levels are further divided into 20 critical subsystems which process various inputs/energy sources into different forms of universal particles (Miller, 1978). Eight of them process only matter and energy (Miller, 1978). The remaining process information only (Miller, 1978).

It has to be appreciated this is where Miller’s theory makes a significant departure from Bertalanffy’s model of open systems theory (Gnti, 2003; Miller, 1978). While Bertalanffy believed in free and proactive exchange of information between the system and surroundings, Miller (1978) combines the “open system” as well as “closed system” approach into a selective theory which premises that interaction between different system levels is a by-product of its hierarchical position and should therefore, be seen in combination with its roles and responsibilities (Miller, 1978; Gnti, 2003).

  • The most interesting aspect of Miller’s theory is his central premise of “supranational” systems. According to Miller (1978), a supranational system is deemed a combination of two or more societies which are controlled by a central agency which decides the way the system is heading (Gnti, 2003). This has been compared to international agencies and governing bodies such as the UNO, NATO and other trans-national enterprises which have the final say on matters relevant to different components of the system.

Even though Miller’s theories made a successful distinction between concrete (Bertalanffy model) and abstract systems (Luhmann model), they have come under mild criticism from human resource professionals and team leaders in various capacities of leading an organization. According to them, Miller’s supranational, hierarchical theory of perceiving the combinations between different system levels ignores the real strength which exists at grass-roots levels in these organizations (Miner, 2002). It is believed most organizations rely on the back-up strength of system designers which often exist at functional levels of the enterprise (Miner, 2002).

Despite the obvious flaws and contraditions in the three theories discussed in this section, the overwhelming importance of either author cannot be neglected in the real world. According to Bailey (2006), the Living Systems Theory (LST) is the best example of a centralized theory which covers contradictions between “open” and “closed” systems. Luhmann’s Grand theory has been universally adopted by sociologists and social theoriests in diverse areas such as corporate social responsibility, organizational structure, education and matters of legal importance (Bailey, 2006). Bertalanffy’s General Systems theory (GST) model of course, is the most generalized course of action in understanding the interrelationship of systems and their surroundings.

Lack of Parental Involvement in Children’s education

According to several academic experts, the true education of children begins at home. Parental involvement and support consistently through a child’s elementary education plays a seemingly important role in development of child learning skills and personality. The early the parents involve themselves in a child’s overall education process, the better for them because schoolchildren spend a considerable amount of time in performing learning activities at home (Cotton & Wikelund, 1991).

Right after their early infancy, children look upon their parents as a de facto learning institution for variety of educational needs. Consistent parental support at each and every walk of the learning process goes a long way in building and sustaining children’s educational curiosity (Cotton & Wikelund, 1991). This also translates into successful parent-staff relationships regarding children’s mentorship in a complex, dynamic school environemnet (Comer & Haynes, 1991). Home-learning activities and open communications are at the centre of parent-child educational process development (Smith & Pellegrini, 2001).

Since, most experts agree that parental involvement plays a crucial role in cognitive and social development of children, it can also be argued that the absence of suitable intervention in the early phase of development of a child’s educational period can lead to severe situations of underperformance and inferiority complex (Cotton & Wikelund, 2002). For the purpose of Breadth theme, the author has presented the following strands of information which suggest the situations which emerge from the lack of parental involvement in a child’s education.

The first and fundamental building block in analyzing the role of parents in a child’s overall education lies in the degree and aspect of communications taking place between the two participants (Bronstein, 2002). Communication is a two-way street and it is important for parents to build and sustain open systems of communication with their children so they achieve a complete and holistic education (Bronstein, 2002).

This translates into practical activities such as attending regular parent-teacher school conferences, volunteering for various parent-student activities at school, using language translators where needed (in case of parents from non-English speaking backgrounds) and keeping regular track of schedules, memos, phone calls, diary reports and other forms of school communication patterns (Weis, Altback, Kelly & Petrie, 1991). If these basic lines of communication are not built and sustained, it can lead to catastrophic results in the long run. For example:

  1. Children whose parents fail to keep track of open communications with school authorities risk behavior such as repeat absenteeism, irregularity in doing homework and class assignments, frequent disciplinary action results due to bad behavior and other negative fall-outs of children not being able to integrate into the school system (Weis, Altback, Kelly & Petrie, 1991). Without proper mentors and guides (parents), schoolchildren find it difficult to sustain the high expectations of moral/disciplinary behavior which is vital to their success in the academic system.
  2. In several school authorities, parents have an intrinsic responsibility to participate in home environment activities which are vital to ensure good performance of children in school activities (Weis, Altback, Kelly & Petrie, 1991). This envisages parents to equip themselves with adequate information concerning health, nutrition and other activities.
  3. Lack of good communication skills can lead to severe learning difficulties at home e.g. homework planning, term work, projects, extra-curricular activities and other direct activities which require straightforward relationship between parents and children, and consequently, increased attention on their true educational needs (Weis, Altback, Kelly & Petrie, 1991).
  4. The biggest negative fall-out to poor communication standards lies in parents’ inability to achieve proper decision-making in various forms of parent-school interactions which are crucial to ensure a child’s lasting success in a given academic environment (Ashford, LeCroy & Lortie, 2005). This consists of regular parent-teacher governing bodies such as PTA, school advisory agencies, academic networks and basic educational channels which build and sustain a child’s educational attainment at a certain age and beyond (Ashford, LeCroy & Lortie, 2005). It is the job of independent agencies to build and sustain parental interest in various forms of educational decision-making activity concerning their children.

The second important aspect of open communications is the lack of ability of parents to understand the subtle nuances of various communication gestures as they apply to their childrens’ sustained educational efforts (Weis, Altback, Kelly & Petrie, 1991). Subtle forms of communication exist in a relatively confined environment (inside the home) and consists of a series of signals, symbols, anchor points and other non-describable gestures which can either build or destroy a child’s academic interest in the long run (Weis, Altback, Kelly & Petrie, 1991).There are several examples to understand subtle communication gestures in analyzing the relationship between parents and children in the larger interest of sustainable education. These have been mentioned as below:

  1. Regularity and schedule: According to previously held study, a lack of proper daily schedule (for all activities including learning) at home can lead to indiscipline, lack of creativity and improper educational efforts by children towards their academic study (Bronstein, 2002).
  2. Regularizing out-of-school activities: A lack of initiative by parents in understanding subtle gestures of education can lead to long-term cycles of underperformance, underachievement and disinterest in academic activities for children (Smith & Pellegrini, 2001). Controlling this attribute involves invoking various reining-in gestures such as monitoring Television and Internet usage, arranging for supervised care in absence from home, educating about public etiquette skills and fostering awareness on issues of social importance e.g. patriotism, hobby development etc (Smith & Pellegrini, 2001).
  3. Keeping track of behavioral progress at school: Children perceive different forms of interaction at school which impact their day-to-day life personality skills (Smith & Pellegrini, 2001). In order to better streamline educational development activities, parents need to keep track on behavioral progress in the school environment: in the playground, extra-curricular activities and a variety of close interactions taking place on an almost daily basis (Smith & Pellegrini, 2001). Opening subtle channels of communication enable parents to watch out for dangerous signs in behavior e.g. their children suffering from bullying.
  4. Encouraging learning activities such as reading, writing and communications. Studies have shown that children are able to pick up the basics of reading, writing and associated activities when they are able to thrive in a proper academic environment at home (Smith & Pellegrini, 2001; Weis, Altback, Kelly & Petrie, 1991; Ashford, LeCroy & Lortie, 2005 ). Parents can build or break learning incentives which foster good academic performance. Home environment plays a very important role in ensuring that children get a fair chance at school.

The third and final part of open communications in parental involvement consists of the parents’ ability to assess outcomes of student attitude and behavior as applies to assessing the impact of student attitude and behavior on various aspects of classroom life: motivation for work, absenteeism, classroom conduct, personality development etc. (Dornbusch & Ritter, 1988). This essentially translates into development of incentives which improve such behavior expectations from students and calls for the presence of a strong parental mentor (Dornbusch & Ritter, 1988).

If parents fail to mentor their children in a way seen fit with the demands of society, it can lead to them gravitating towards unreasonable actions and neglecting their education (Dornbusch & Ritter, 1988). In all due probability, parents will be seen as positive role models in students’ attitude and actions when parents themselves live up to the high expectations children have of them (Dornbusch & Ritter, 1988). The failure of parents to live up to those standards deemed morally acceptable can build or destroy any positive associations children need to develop in themselves (Dornbusch & Ritter, 1988).

In this section, the author has demonstrated various situations/examples where lack of parental involvement in a child’s education leads to detrimental effects and consistent spells of underperformance and underachievement. The learning lessons uncovered in this objective point out to the sheer scope of irrationalities and difficult choices faced by parents when they seek their children’s education according to model expectations. In all due probability, parents who fail to keep track of their childrens’ academic progress lose any hope of being able to redeem their chances at school.

Application of System Theory in learning areas concerning lack of parental involvement for school-going children; auxiliary discussions

In this section, the author has combined and integrated discussions of all three system theories in the case situation at hand. The objective of providing a theoretical discussion in previous sections was to showcase the functionality of such attributes in practice. In all probability, any discussions relevant to assessing the role of lack of parental involvement in the education of a child has to be justified according to prevailing social theories.

For the purpose of the Breadth component of this dissertation, the three theories shortlisted for research were: Bertalanffy (General System theory), Luhmann (Grand theory) and Miller (Living Systems theory). Each of given theories has been compared and contrasted based on their relevance to objective situations. In this section, the author seeks to apply those evidences as part of understanding the intricacies of the situation at hand.

Apart from building evidence for the theoretical discussions raised in this topic, this paper also seeks to establish the contribution of each of the three theorists from original works in various areas of education especially that involving the central theme: the lack of parental involvement in school activities and its impact on student achievements on a long term. All three thinktanks had a well-established reputation in fields of common interest: student learning, parental involvement, institutional role in fostering academic environment, building and developing motivation, research study etc.

Even though it can be argued that none of the theorists made any direct allusion to the topic reference beyond obvious thoughts in their period of time, it is valid to assume their significance in modern-day exhaustive body of literature surrounding myriad topics related to education.

The author’s first point was regarding the role/influence of parents in their children’s education, especially from a long-term point of view. It has been mentioned that any perceived absence of parents in the cognitive development period of students can lead to disastrous learning disabilities at a later stage in life. Parents role as mentors, motivators and guides is inherently based on a system which regards them the right to pursue the best interests of their child.

Bertalanffy’s GST rests on the premise that “interrelationship” and “interdependence” of objects and their attributes is a must for any system which thrives on its own (Bertalanffy, 1969). In this particular scenario, if the parent-child unit is assumed as an open system with plenty of mutual interdependence (the parent also depends on the child’s feedback in order to prepare better objective response for various learning situations), the system is said to thrive only due to prolonged contact between different system attributes (Bertalanffy, 1969). The process of developing educational attributes is a measure of increasing “orderliness” in the system.

In contrast, Luhmann’s Grand theory follows a “closed system” approach will tackle the same situation according to a scientific, reductionist model which envisages that both child and parent be projected as two independent systems which have little in common beyond the feedback loop generated by the system (Luhmann, 1975). As a closed entity, Grand theory is to divide systems into “reduced zones of complexity” for both parent and child wherein each of them feels independent to pursue their own interactions module (Luhmann, 1975).

In this particular scenario, it might be deemed proper to invoke the biggest criticism of Grand theory by Juergen Habermas who argued for the existence of “human participants” in closely-integrated systems such as a parent and her child (McCarthy, 1978; Mathur, 2008). It is not proper to deny the existence of human participants in such a closely-intertwined system.

Miller’s LST when applied to above situation, would categorize parent-child interactions in the ambit of matter and energy exchanged in hierarchical terms wherein the parent belongs to a higher echelon (one of the eight levels mentioned) in the hierarchy since it’s controlling unit (Miller, 1978). The child, in contrast is the controlled unit and easily rests on a lower echelon (Miller, 1978). The involvement (or the absence of it) of the parent in a child’s education and future has grave implications for various scenarios associated with it. The child, as the receiving unit, constantly depends on information passed by the member in a higher echelon (Miller, 1978). This interdependence manifests itself in each and every interaction taking place.

For the scenario of understanding the role/influence of parents in their children’s education, especially from a long-term point of view, it can be indicated that Bertalanffy’s GST and Miller’s LST can both rationalize with equal measure the system at hand (parent-child). As far as Luhmann’s Grand theory is concerned, it is important to note there is not much requirement for “chaos” or “disorderliness” study in a simple relationship between parents, children and the organized school system. Such interactions follow simple patterns as covered by Bertalanffy and Miller.

As suggested earlier, the author’s second scenario talks of open direct communications between the parent and child. This translates into practical activities such as attending regular parent-teacher school conferences, volunteering for various parent-student activities at school, using language translators where needed (in case of parents from non-English speaking backgrounds) and keeping regular track of schedules, memos, phone calls, diary reports and other forms of school communication patterns (Weis, Altback, Kelly & Petrie, 1991). Lack of parental intervention can lead to poor student achievement as measured by absenteeism, poor educational grades and other negative scenarios.

If the above challenge is to be analyzed using GST, it will lead to the following corollary of Bertalanffy’s laws; transformation activity. All systems, in order to achieve order, endeavor to convert input variables into some pre-decided output (West Churchman, 1971; Bowler, 1981). In this particular scenario, it may be argued that the system undergoes transformation into pre-decided input variables such as the practical activities suggested beforehand.

The pre-decided output consists of overcoming absenteeism, poor educational grades etc. To this decision, it may be prudent to apply scientific reductionist principles which call for a strong cause-effect relationship between the variables at hand (Dawkins, 1976; Pinker, 2002). It can be well-appreciated here that these variables do play a decisive role in direct transformation scenarios and thus, the GST may not work out as planned.

Analyzing above situation through Luhmann’s Grand entropy theory offers conclusive validation of the issues at hand here: Luhmann also somewhat differs from Bertalanffy’s model of orderliness as against entropy which explains the “degrees to which above situation progresses beyond recovery point (Luhmann, 1975). According to the Grand theory as discussed earlier, systems should operate out of a non-descript environment where sub-systems build and integrate the whole system by selective communications – not necessarily with a pursuit to build and sustain order (Luhmann, 1975; Robertson & Turner, 1991).

In this particular scenario of open communications between parents and children, the system favours and rewards selective communications between parents, schoolteachers and students to extract specifically desired results for an intended purpose.

Last of all, Miller’s LST will operate on the basis of a supranational system which is generally deemed as a confluence of two or more societal set-ups which are controlled by a central agency which decides the way the system is heading (Gnti, 2003, Miller, 1978).

In this particular scenario and example, it is relevant to note that the system may present itself as a central agency in the form of supranational agents e.g. parents on one hand and teachers-student teacher associations on the other hand. In this case, mild criticism can be applied to the fact that the system does not have enough substance value to hold its own as an organization with top-down information seepage. Since, the final output decision is dependent on grass-roots level (children), students themselves have the power to take independent decisions in enabling the pre-decided school objectives to succeed (Miner, 2002).

For the scenario of understanding open direct communications between the parent and the child in a given exchange mode, it’s worth mentioning that Luhmann’s Grand theory provides the best fit model for given situation at hand.

As suggested earlier, another of the author’s scenario consists of subtle communications between the parent and child in a contextualized framework. It was repeatedly mentioned that children are at the forefront of any exercise involving parents in matters concerning the well-being of the children. It was mentioned that subtle forms of communication exist in a relatively secure environment (inside the home) and consists of a series of signals, symbols, anchor points and other non-describable gestures which can either build or destroy a child’s academic interest in the long run (Weis, Altback, Kelly & Petrie, 1991). These communication patterns exist in the following sub-scenarios: each of which is discussed according to theories at hand.

  1. Regularity and schedule: Lack of discipline can mar the academic experience of students and make classroom activity dull and uninteresting. Applying GST to this scenario, it can be seen that it perfectly fits the situation at hand i.e. there are no seeming contradictions between a system’s quest for “orderliness” and “regularity” and the role of parents in enforcing regularity, discipline and schedule for their children (Bertalanffy, 1969). Change is the only event which matters here and it’s brought about by an “inter-dependent” agent i.e. parents. It can be appreciated here that Luhmann’s theory of “chaotic control” cannot be applied to this scenario. Also, it is possible to apply LST because the scenario dictates a relatively hierarchical aspect of communications because it’s all about enforcement of rules and guidelines.
  2. Regularizing out-of-school activities: This involves another set of disciplinarian activities which range from setting limits on television and internet access, regulating play, including mandatory teaching of etiquette and other guidelines etc. Applying GST to given scenario will yield similar results such as the previous point because the end result for the agent is to bring about an effective “change” or “transformation” (Bertalanffy, 1969). In a similar vein, it won’t be possible to apply Grand theory since it cannot coexist with the model for advanced inter-dependent communications between both entities in the system. The application of Miller’s LST depends a lot on presenting successful distinction between concrete (Bertalanffy model) and abstract systems (Luhmann model) because regularizing out-of-school activities often thrive on subtle communication gestures and as such, must be regulated by provisions of rank and hierarchy. The system wholly depends on perceived input from agencies beyond its ambit.
  3. Keeping track of behavioral progress at school: As has been mentioned previously, children pick up different signals at school activities e.g. playground. In order to achieve a realistic progress in various aspects of communication related to behavioral progress, it has to be kept in mind that parents themselves have to play role models in all aspects of a child’s attitude development process (Bertalanffy, 1969). Applying GST to given scenario would yield results inconsistent with orderliness attributes. Chaos and randomness offers a better explanation to the peculiar situations being covered in this scenario. This is where Luhmann’s Grand theory comes in picture. Miller’s LST cannot be applied to current scenario.
  4. Encouraging learning activities such as reading, writing and communications. Again, this being a proactive communication series, the best theories to fit present model would be the LST model because it encompasses various hierarchical levels for which this discussion is being made. It is not possible to apply Luhmann’s Grand theory because the results (output) being covered are specific in detail and not chaotic.

Having already analyzed the last and final theoretical scenario of parent mentorship in the aspect of open communications related to role development, it is important to suggest here that regularity in applying either Bertalanffy, Luhmann or Miller’s model for social scenarios in education require thorough understanding of the salient features of such a model.

In this endeavor, different facets of the three theorists were covered: e.g. Bertalanffy’s insistence on keeping a clear line of demarcation between living and non-living entities, Luhmann’s insistence on ignoring the human element in any perceived interactions between different entities covered by a given situation and Miller’s hierarchical systems theory. All theories teach something of vital importance in given application scenario.

Conclusions of Breadth

In the Breadth section of the order, the author has discussed theoretical significance of three important theorists: Bertalanffy, Luhmann and Miller – and the theories of social systems given by them. An extensive literature review looked into multi-dimensional utility of the given theories. The theories mentioned are as follows:

  1. Bertalanffy’s General Systems theory which gives simple-to-understand relationships between different components of a system, overall leading to mutual interdependence in various aspects of control. The important principles discussed include theoryof transformation of inputs into output, orderliness and goal-seeking approach of the system. As against scientific, reductionist principles, the GST gives a methodical glimpse into the interdependent world of communications between different elements in a system.
  2. Luhmann’s Grand theory offers a contrary viewpoint suggesting the application of reductionist principles in various aspects of reductionist principles discussed in the exercise. This includes a grand design for entropy present in each and every system component, value placed on complexity and intricacy of above design and parameters such as the absence of human element in interactions between a system and its surroundings.
  3. Last but not the least, Miller’s Living Systems theory (LST) combines the concreteness of GST with the abstract emphasis of Grand theory to achieve realistic solutions regarding all aspects of system control. The central tenet of LST is the sheer emphasis placed on hierarchies of systems and the impact it plays on different scenarios at hand.

Apart from Luhmann’s, both Bertalanffy and Miller’s theories have open-system approach to understanding communication between system and surroundings.

In order to test the application of all three theorists, the following theoretical constructs of a children-parent interaction system was designed. It consisted of applying the theories in different scenarios and situations at hand. The underlying verdict is: each and every aspect of the children-parent interaction system can be explained in detail by a different theory at hand. The application of various social system theories in Breadth component has thus, been completed.

  1. Open System communications between parents and children, especially when applied to classroom scenarios in terms of absenteeism, homework and assignments.
  2. Open System communications between parents and children, especially when applied to subtle communication gestures to build and sustain children’s activities outside of the classroom.
  3. Communications between parents and children especially where it concerns direct interaction in which parent is placed as mentor for the child.

Recommendations for Depth

The procedures, methodologies and theories of general systems as discussed in Breadth component will be used to solve cognate situations/scenarios in the author’s own version of testing the application of such theories.


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