Systems theory, in particular as developed by Niklas Luhmann (1927–1998), is a theory of operatively closed systems that provides an extremely conceptrich description of social phenomena, including law. This intense concern with empirically grounded and consistently used concepts is the specialty of Luhmann's system theory. His methodology of theory building sets the approach apart from all other approaches of sociological theory and places it close to qualitative social science approaches, such as the thick description and grounded theory in qualitative empirical research.

Even if Luhmann started from premises that appear to be vastly different from empirical research, he arrived at an empirical, thick description of society and its law. Luhmann was primarily interested not in law but in the question of how social order was possible, ...

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