Second-Order Cybernetics in Family Systems Theory
Name of Concept
Second Order Cybernetics in Family Systems Theory
Cybernetics of Cybernetics*; New Cybernetics
Second-order cybernetics (also known as the Cybernetics of Cybernetics* and the New Cybernetics*) is a philosophy of communication and growth that acknowledges the recursive nature of relationships and interpersonal influence (Atkinson and Heath 1990). Second-order cybernetics holds that those who observe systems, such as family therapists, cannot be separated from the systems with which they observe and are thus constantly helping to shape reality for all members.
Theoretical Context for Concept
Second-order cybernetics considers (rather than ignores) the observer, studying observing as opposed to observed systems. A consequence is that all knowledge is seen as dependent on the observer involvement. The observer contributes and, since it is impossible to access what we observe without being an observer, that which is observed is unclear. Is there an...
- Howe, R., & von Foerster, H. (1974). Cybernetics at Illinois. Forum, 6, 15–17.Google Scholar