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Niklas Luhmann (1927–1998) was a German sociologist who gained worldwide reputation for his theory of social systems. He studied and received a doctoral degree in law, started his professional career in public administration, and became a professor of sociology in Bielefeld—one of Germany's younger reform campuses—in 1968. His devotion to systems theory connects him with Talcott Parsons, who he came to know while studying public administration in Harvard from 1960 to 1961. It is important to stress that Luhmann's understanding of social systems has only a little in common with Parsons's concepts. The reception of systems theory in American sociology is guided by the critique of functionalism in the 1960s and later by Habermas's reading of Luhmann. Whereas earlier controversies have led to the ...

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