Complexity, Institutions, and an ‘Agile’ Disability Policy
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AGH University of Science and Technology
Publication date: 2016-09-25
Polish Sociological Review 2016;195(3):327–340
The aims of this article are: 1) to offer a deeper and more theoretically grounded understanding of the dysfunctions of the institutional support system for people with disabilities in Poland; and 2) to propose inspirations for a new, ‚agile’ disability policy. To this end the author applies concepts from Niklas Luhmann’s theory of social systems and its more recent interpretations, as well as ideas from so-called complexity theory. It is shown that the dysfunctions of the institutional system can be interpreted as resulting from the system’s autopoiesis and insensitivity to the complexity of the environment. Yet, as the system/environment relationship is precarious, the system could be motivated to redefine itself and to implement solutions that would make it more responsive to the environment. It is argued that an agile disability policy, based on the assumption that complexity is a crucial environmental feature, could be a solution to this problem.
I wish to express my gratitude to Barbara Gąciarz from AGH University of Science and Technology for introducing me to the problems of disability policy and for her constant support of this publication; Vladislav Valentinov from the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies for improving my understanding of Niklas Luhmann’s theory and for valuable comments on the earlier version of the manuscript; Andrzej Bukowski from Jagiellonian University for always-inspiring discussions on social theory and for sharing bibliographical resources; and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback. The responsibility for the arguments developed here is, however, mine alone.
This research project ‘From a Comprehensive Diagnosis of the Situation of People with Disabilities to a New Model of Disability Policy’ was led by Barbara Gąciarz and financed by the (Polish) National Fund for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons [PFRON].