Baecker, D. (2007), Studien zur nächsten Gesellschaft, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
SUMMARY - In his analysis of the evolution of work and its organization, Dirk Baecker traces the development from the tribal society, where work was a part of rituals and social relationships, to the modern society, where work is primarily a means of producing and exchanging goods and services. Baecker argues that the modern society is characterized by a constant process of differentiation and specialization, in which work is increasingly shaped by market forces and technological innovations. He also points out that the modern society is marked by a tension between the individual's desire for self-realization and the constraints imposed by the structures of the society. As we enter the digital age, the introduction of new communication technologies such as the computer and the internet is creating new challenges and opportunities for the organization of work. While the computer has been embraced as a tool for increasing efficiency and productivity, the internet and social media are raising questions about the boundaries between work and leisure, and the role of communication and collaboration in the workplace.
Work is dangerous
In this article, Dirk Baecker discusses the dangers and control of work in society. He suggests that work is generally viewed as dangerous because it involves creating new products that may not be needed, engaging in social interactions that go against good manners, and using time that could be spent elsewhere. He also suggests that work is strictly controlled and regulated in society, with rules governing what products can be created through work, how people should interact with each other while working, and how much time can be spent working. Baecker discusses the semantic aspect of work, or the language and meanings associated with it; it often presents an unrealistic view of work as being freely chosen and necessary for personal fulfillment. Baecker argues that this semantic view of work hides the structural aspect of work, or the societal control and regulation of it, and that this control allows society to intervene and dictate what work is done, with whom, and for how long. He also notes that the immense investment society makes in work is relatively small compared to the control and regulation it exerts over it.
Concerning the sociological perspective on work and its place in society, different authors have looked into this. Talcott Parsons is known for his analysis of the balance between the demands and promises of work, family, politics, and culture. Niklas Luhmann viewed work as a parasitic force that must work within the constraints of the society that allows it to exist in order to profit. Baecker suggests that this view of work as a paradox, or a blind spot, in the center of society explains why society tends to prefer conventions and routines, and why innovation is often only accepted when it can be routinized. Karl Marx wrote that the worker's restlessness is accepted by society only if the product of their work is considered restful. The history of work has been shaped by the organization of work, which transforms the restlessness of the worker into the restfulness of the product. Work discipline refers to the control and regulation of work, and it is enforced through various means such as the division of labor and the measurement of time.
Work, organization, and society are interdependent and interconnected. These three concepts influence each other and there is a balance between the dependent and independent aspects of each. Work has a dual nature as both productive and destructive; this balance between the two is constantly being negotiated in various ways, such as in the use of materials, in the treatment of one's own and others' labor, and in the interactions with society. Sociological work itself is a challenge and carries with it the potential for destructive insights. The productive aspects of this destructive sociological perspective on societal relations might be that it offers a multi-faceted and multi-valued theory of society, which may not be immediately appealing due to its complexity, but which has the potential to offer greater understanding and nuance in the analysis of society. Baecker also discusses the concept of reflexivity, or the ability to reflect on and question one's own assumptions and actions, and how this can be applied to the sociological perspective on work, organization, and society.
So, work, organization, and society are interdependent and constantly balancing each other. The organization of work serves as a kind of immune system that determines what to combat and what to accept. The Aristocratic society, characterized by the use of written documents to exert control, is a hierarchical system that determines individuals' social status at birth.
The organization of work becomes more institutionalized in the sense that it is guided by predetermined purposes, and this leads to a greater separation from ritual. However, this comes with the expectation that each work and each step in its organization is geared towards a specific purpose. The organization of work in the modern society is characterized by the tension between the demands of the economy and the demands of society, and this tension is mediated through the state and politics.
The organization of work in different societies can be thought of as an immune system that makes decisions about what to fight and what to protect based on the distinction between what is considered foreign and what is considered part of the self. In the case of aristocratic societies, the introduction of writing and the concept of social hierarchy led to the institutionalization of work, which is defined by its purpose and subject to rules and regulations. The rise of capitalism brought about the integration of the economy and work, with the value of work being determined by how much capital it generates and the capital it requires. With the advent of the computer and the Internet, work has become increasingly mediated by technology, and organizations are facing the challenge of adapting to these new structures of communication.
The introduction of new communication technologies has significant impacts on society, and each new technology prompts a restructuring of society's existing structure and culture. Specific technologies such as language, writing, the printing press, and computers have had dramatic effects on society in the past. It is questionably if other technologies such as photography, film, the telephone, and television should be considered as important as these earlier technologies, and if we can validly assume that each society can be neatly categorized according to a single dominant communication medium. Baecker’s “Studien zur nächsten Gesellschaft” were inspired by the observation that it is possible to observe and differentiate social phenomena based on their production of excess meaning and their formal reduction of excess meaning. Various institutions such as the theater, architecture, work, organization, university, images, and family can be thought of as one-time inventions of society, which typically only exist in one form within a given society.
Society has evolved and adapted in response to new communication technologies, and each new technology has brought about significant changes in society's structure and culture. Backer acknowledges that his ideas are speculative and may contain inaccuracies due to the limited historical data available, but believes that it is still worthwhile to present these ideas in a sketchy form. He proposes a theory of society that focuses on the recursivity of all social reproduction, and examines this idea by considering how it is affected by four different dominant communication media. Niklas Luhmann'sbook "Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft" is the source for Baecker’s idea that society has survived the introduction of writing, the printing press, and computers by developing specific culture forms for dealing with the excess meaning produced by these technologies. Baecker sees importance inunderstanding the connections between culture forms and other phenomena in society, and in how these culture forms gain credibility by being incorporated into the structure of empirical reality. He wants to understand the way that society's most basic forms of cooperation and its understanding of institutions like the family are influenced by the dominant communication medium of the time.
So, society has developed specific culture forms in response to new communication technologies that provide more possibilities for communication than society can initially handle. Examples are the introduction of writing and the printing press; these both prompted the development of new culture forms. The culture form of teleology, which involves evaluating the purpose and use of all possible forms of meaning, was developed in response to the introduction of writing. This culture form is still used in business management today and is based on the idea of evaluating things based on their purpose and means. The culture form of the disenchantment of the world, which involves the rejection of magic and the rationalization of society through the application of the purpose-means relation, was developed in response to the printing press. The printing press allowed for the widespread duplication and comparison of written communication, leading to a sense of confusion and unrest in society. The culture form of equilibrium, which involves the idea that conflicting forces can be balanced against each other, was developed in response to the introduction of the computer. The computer has created new possibilities for communication and has made it possible to store and access vast amounts of information. Each of these culture forms has shaped society and influenced our understanding of the world. The current dominant culture form is the idea of "form," as developed by mathematician George Spencer-Brown in his book "Laws of Form," which involves a distinction between two sides, one representing something specific and the other representing the indefinite. This culture form allows for the creation of algorithms and calculations that lead to results, but also allows for the consideration of the origin of the results and the possibility of alternative outcomes. According to Baecker, the future innovative companies will recognize the importance of the "computer human," or a highly complex unit that is capable of perception and communication, and is able to observe, reflect on, and describe its own conditions. These companies will use the computer human in leadership, customer relations, work process design, and negotiations with network partners. They will also recognize that mindfulness, or the ability to pay attention to the present moment, is a critical resource in dealing with people, machines, and ideas. Baecker suggests that this will fundamentally change the internal organization of companies. The challenge for the next society will be to deal with the increasing complexity and diversity of communication and to find ways to use this complexity for innovation and progress. This will require a new form of social and economic organization that is able to balance the demands of the market with the need for social responsibility and sustainability.
In the next society, innovative companies will not be able to rely on their own resources or abilities to drive change and improvement. Instead, they will operate within a network of organizations, including government agencies, labor unions, and consumer protection groups. These relationships will be governed by indirect forms of control, such as ratings by agencies and certification of quality processes. In addition, innovative companies will be part of a larger population of similar organizations, and will need to consider the context in which they operate and the potential impact of their actions on the larger community. Finally, the success of innovative companies will depend on their ability to navigate and respond to the complex and changing environment in which they operate, including shifts in consumer demand and the emergence of new technologies.
Eras of organization
The X of organization (a specific conference in Germany) refers to the essential but unpredictable aspects of organization. It is the part of organization that cannot be created or controlled by the organization itself, but must be navigated and managed. The concept of the X of organization emphasizes the process of organizing, rather than the concept of organization itself, as it highlights the actions and activities that must be taken to create and maintain an organization. It also helps to avoid the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, which is the assumption that the existence of a word or concept implies the actual existence of the thing it represents. Instead, the focus is on the effects that must be produced in order to achieve the desired outcomes. The X of an organization refers to the societal conditions that an organization must rely on while operating, but cannot create or guarantee itself. This X can be understood by examining the history of organizational communication over the past few thousand years in the context of three media epochs: the oral culture of societies, the print culture of societies, and the computer culture of societies. They then discuss the importance of understanding the X in relation to contemporary organizations and the potential implications for management and consulting.
The introduction of new communication media, such as writing, the printing press, and computers, has had significant impacts on the way that organizations function and interact with society. These communication media have enabled the organization of larger and more complex systems, and have allowed for the selective inclusion or exclusion of information in communication. Different communication media correspond to different order figures, which refer to the logical structures that shape the way we think and communicate. These order figures may have different implications for the organization and management of social systems.
As society has adopted new media, specifically the written word, the printing press, and computers, each new medium has required a new cultural form or organizing principle in order to be fully integrated into society. The current cultural form, in the age of computers and the internet, is the navigating or managing of open-ended and context-dependent connections using two-sided forms. This shift has resulted in a departure from the idea of a stable self or identity and a focus on the present moment and connections rather than long-term goals or purposes.
Different cultural forms, such as the use of written language, the printing press, and computers, have enabled the expansion and evolution of communication and have shaped the way that organizations operate. The cultural form of the computer, specifically, has introduced a new form of communication that is fundamentally different from previous forms and requires a different way of navigating and understanding it. Institutionsare a type of organization that has established a certain level of authority and self-evident purpose, and has the ability to pursue its programs without question.
Double-entry bookkeeping allowed for the differentiation (or "self-sufficiency") of businesses as legal entities (firma), rational entities (ratio), and credit entities (ditta). This idea, proposed by Werner Sombart, is controversial in literature. Organizations are shaped by risk calculation and rationality, with a focus on businesses rather than academia, administration, or the military. The concept of an "unsettled equilibrium" introduced by the culture of book printing is allowing businesses, in particular, to transform their own forms into a risk calculus. The institutional form of an organization is based on the assertion of rational decision-making, even if it ultimately relies on associations with ideas of reason rather than actual reason itself. In ancient organizations, issues of risk were addressed under the title of "prudence," but the focus was more on hiding risks, privatizing them through cunning, and making them the subject of organizational design rather than calculation. Contemporary organizations are shaped by their own risk calculations, but also by their reliance on institutional forms and the expectations that come with them. Double-entry bookkeeping facilitated the differentiation and independence of businesses, and this has led to the development of organizations that are designed to manage risk and make decisions based on rationality.
Mindfulness, which refers to the specific ways in which mental and social attention is used and maintained within networks of production, administration, knowledge, politics, or culture. The next generation of organizations will have to take into account the individual characteristics and abilities of their members, rather than just their prescribed roles and responsibilities. Double-entry bookkeeping plays a role in the differentiation (or independence) of a business as a legal unit, a unit of reason, and a unit of credit. Some literature disputes this thesis put forward by Werner Sombart, but this does not change the fact that modern businesses are increasingly being organized in terms of risk calculations. These calculations involve both the principal-agent problem between employers and employees and the problem of managing profits and risks within the organization. The development of the printing press and the figure of the restless equilibrium it introduced have allowed businesses (specifically, business organizations, as opposed to academic, administrative, and military institutions) to reorganize themselves in terms of risk calculations. This leads to a view of organizations as a combination of risk and rationality. The management of an organization must therefore be thought of as loosely connected and communicatively linked to the rest of the organization, and must constantly seek out opportunities to observe and experience how events, time, and social behaviors are perceived and processed within the organization. It must also be situated within the context of a new economy in which every address, product, process, and connection is subject to search for alternatives and in which management decisions must constantly be made about changing or maintaining these connections within a network of potential partners. This network is both open-ended in terms of the horizon of possible alternatives and constrained in terms of the alternatives that are feasible within the network's existing resources and capabilities.