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Applying Niklas Luhmann’s Social Systems Theory to Health Systems – how does it fit?

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Title: Applying Niklas Luhmann’s Social Systems Theory to Health Systems – how does it fit?

Author: João Costa PhD

Address: Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (RrugaFaik Konica vila 19 – Tirana, Albania)

[email protected]

Introduction 

This poster briefly review and apply Luhmann’s Social System Theory to Health System’s thinking. Luhmann applied his theory to fields such as law, education, art, economy, but not health. His insights however allow a new way of looking at health systems; this poster illustrates that. 

System thinking approaches health systems as a unit of parts connected by feedback-loops, input-transformation-output cybernetic links with properties of self-maintenance and resistance to change. These conceptions left health system thinking somehow insufficient. Luhmann’s theory offers a range of notions: communication, decision-making and self-observation without repeated feedback-loops, system’s creation of its own structures, openness/closure of the system to its environment, etc.; they open a new conceptual architecture.

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