Sociocybernetics is an independent chapter of science in sociology based upon the general systems theory and cybernetics.
It also has a basis in organizational development (OD) consultancy practice and in theories of communication, theories of psychotherapies and computer sciences. The International Sociological Association has a specialist research committee in the area – RC51 – which publishes the (electronic) Journal of Sociocybernetics.
The term "socio" in the name of sociocybernetics refers to any social system (as defined, among others, by Talcott Parsons and Niklas Luhmann).
The idea to study society as a system can be traced back to the origin of sociology when the emergent idea of functional differentiation has been applied for the first time to society by Auguste Comte.
The basic goal for which sociocybernetics was created, is the production of a theoretical framework as well as information technology tools for responding to the basic challenges individuals, couples, families, groups, companies, organizations, countries, international affairs are facing today.
Sociocybernetics aims to generate a general theoretical framework for understanding cooperative behavior. It claims to give a deep understanding of the general theory of evolution. The outlook that sociocybernetics uses when analyzing any living system lies in a basic law of sociocybernetics. It says: All living systems go through six levels of interrelations (social contracts) of its subsystems:
Going through these six phases of relationship theoretically gives the framework for the sociocybernetic study of any evolutionary system. It serves as an "equation for life." Sociocybernetics can be defined as "Systems Science in Sociology and Other Social Sciences" – systems science, because sociocybernetics is not limited to theory but includes application, empirical research, methodology, axiology (i.e., ethics and value research), and epistemology. In general use, "systems theory" and "cybernetics" are frequently interchangeable or appear in combination. Hence, they can be considered as synonyms, although the two terms come from different traditions and are not used uniformly in different languages and national traditions. Sociocybernetics includes both what are called first order cybernetics and second order cybernetics. Cybernetics, according to Wiener's original definition, is the science of "control and communication in the animal and the machine". Heinz von Foerster went on to distinguish a first order cybernetics, "the study of observed systems", and a second order cybernetics, "the study of observing systems". Second order cybernetics is explicitly based on a constructivist epistemology and is concerned with issues of self-reference, paying particular attention to the observer-dependence of knowledge, including scientific theories. In the interdisciplinary and holistic spirit of systems science, although sociology is clearly at the centre of interest of sociocybernetics, the other social sciences, such as psychology, anthropology, political science, economics, are addressed as well, with emphases depending on the particular research question to be dealt with.
Recent research from the Santa Fe Institute presents the idea that social systems like cities don't behave like organisms as has been proposed by some in sociocybernetics.