Focus and Scope

SOCIOCYBERNETICS traces its intellectual roots to the rise of a panoply of new approaches to scientific inquiry beginning in the 1940's. These included General System Theory, cybernetics and information theory, game theory and automata, net, set, graph and compart- ment theories, and decision and queuing theory conceived as strategies in one way or another appropriate to the study of organized complexity. Although today the Research Committee casts a wide net in terms of appropriate subject matters, pertinent theoretical frameworks and applicable methodologies, the range of approaches deployed by scholars associated with RC51 reflect the maturation of these developments. Here we find, again, GST and first- and second-order cybernetics; in addition, there is widespread sensitivity to the issues raised by "complexity studies," especially in work conceptualizing systems as self-organizing, autocatalytic or autopoietic. "System theory", in the form given it by Niklas Luhmann, and world- systems analysis are also prominently represented within the ranks of RC51.

The institutionalization of sociocybernetic approaches in what was to become RC51, the Research Committee on Sociocybernetics of the International Sociological Association, began in 1980 with the founding of an ISA Ad Hoc Group and proceeded with the organization of sessions at succeeding quadrennial World Congresses of Sociology. The eventual RC51 became a Thematic Group and then a Working Group. Finally, in recognition of its extraordinary success (growing from some 30 members in early 1995 to 240 in 1998), the group was promoted to the status of Research Committee at the 1998 World Congress of Sociology in Montreal.

Over these past two decades, sociocybernetics has attracted a broad range of scholars whose departmental affiliations represent the entire spectrum of the disciplines, from the humanities and the social sciences through the sciences, mathematics and engineering. Furthermore, the many countries of origin of these RC51 members attest to the wide international appeal of sociocybernetic approaches. Within this highly diverse community, there is wide agreement on some very general issues, for instance, on developing strategies for the study of human reality that avoid reification, are cognizant of the pitfalls of reductionism and dualism, and generally eschew linear or homeostatic models. Not surprisingly, however, there are also wide divergences in subject matter, theoretical frameworks and methodological practices.

Many have argued that models developed for the study of complexity can be usefully appropriated for the study of human reality. Moreover, however, the emphasis in complexity studies on contingency, context-dependency, multiple, overlapping temporal and spatial frame- works, and deterministic but unpredictable systems displaying an arrow-of-time suggest that the dividing line between the sciences and the historical social sciences is fuzzier than many might like to think. What is more, in the humanities, the uniquely modern concepts of original object and autonomous human creator have come under serious attack. The coincidence of these two phenomena substantiate the impression that across the disciplines there may be observed a new concern for spatial-temporal wholes constituted at once of relational structures and the phenomenological time of their reproduction and change.

In this context of rich history and exciting possibilities, the Research Committee on Sociocy- bernetics of the International Sociological Association extends an open invitation through the Journal of Sociocybernetics to all engaged in the common quest to explain and understand social reality holistically and self-reflexively without forsaking a concern for human values -- human values not construed simply as a matter of individual ethics, but conceived as an integral part of a social science for our time.

Peer Review Process

The JOURNAL OF SOCIOCYBERNETICS (ISSN: 1607-8667) is a peer reviewed, electronic journal published biannual - Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter - by the Research Commitee on Sociocybernetics (RC 51) of the International Sociological Assosciation (ISA

The Journal will publish the following types of contribution

1) Original research and critical or analytical reviews in any area of theory, policy or research relevant to sociocybenertics. Papers can be up to 8,000 words including abstract, tables, endnotes and references. Papers below this limit are preferred.

2) Short items. These are reports of research findings, commentaries on topical issues or correspondence, of between 2000 and 4000 words

3) Editorials or commentaries commissioned by the Editors. 4) Part or whole Special Issues bringing together collections of papers on a particular theme, and usually edited by a guest editor.

Publication Frequency

Journal items will be published collectively biannually, as part of an issue with its own Table of Contents. 

Open Access Policy

This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge