Lars Qvortrup
The Hypercomplex Society
Lang Publishing 2003


The Hypothesis of Hypercomplexity

According to the theory of the hypercomplex society, we are developing toward a society with a large number of functionally differentiated centers, i.e. a polycentric society, in which the stabilizing factor is not a central guiding body or social ideology, but communication-based processes of coordination. Stability is then not the outcome of order and centralization, but of a high level of complexity and decentralization. Here, information and communication technologies are not understood as determining factors, but as socially shaped technologies formed by the need for decentered processes of mutual observation and coordination among social sub-centers

Medium, Form, and Meaning cannot talk about the what-question (what is substance, what is form?) without raising the how-question, how, that is according to which criteria, is the distinction between substance and form made?.

But what then are we to do? How are we to define the categories of "substance" and "form," at the same time as we make it clear that they don't have universal status and are instead more dependent upon their mutual relation? Niklas Luhmann has suggested that one should distinguish between structures with relatively loose connections and structures with relatively strongly connected elements.

The first—the structure that is characterized by loosely coupled elements—can be called the "medium" (as an alternative to the term "substance," with its more universal associations). The second—the structure that is characterized by more strongly coupled elements—can be called "form."