How Luhmann’s systems theory can inform gambling studies

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.29173/cgs39

Keywords:

gambling, systems theory, Luhmann, methodology, sociology

Abstract

Gambling and problem gambling studies tend to be characterised by individual-based approaches both theoretically and methodologically, while sociological approaches remain underutilised or even marginal. In this study, we discuss the potential of Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory in the analysis of gambling. As opposed to positivist or individualistic approaches, Luhmann’s work is strongly constructivist: neither systems nor their components are seen to be made up of individuals. Using systems theory in informing gambling research distances the research interests from individuals and directs it towards societal mechanisms, structures, and processes. Therefore, a systems theoretical approach can offer novel tools to study gambling, but also the paradigm of gambling research itself. This paper demonstrates how systems theory can critically inform gambling research through five operationalisations: gambling as a system, the gambling experience, the regulation of gambling economies, gambling providers as organisations, and systems theory as a methodological program. These five operationalisations can serve as an important window to widen perspectives on gambling.

Author Biographies

Michael Egerer, Centre for Research on Addiction, Control, and Governance CEACG, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki

Michael Egerer (Dr. Soc. Sci.) is a University Researcher at the University of Helsinki Research Centre for Addiction, Control, and Governance (CEACG). His research interests address gambling, gambling regulations and the concept of addiction. While mastering a wide selection of methodologies Egerer is an expert in the focus group technique. Currently he is a board member of the Finnish Association for Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Research. With Virve Marionneau and Janne Nikkinen, Egerer edited the book Gambling Policies in European Welfare States, which was published by Palgrave in August 2018.

Virve Marionneau, Centre for Research on Addiction, Control, and Governance CEACG, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki

Virve Marionneau is currently working as a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Helsinki Research Centre for Addiction, Control, and Governance (CEACG) and in the Academy of Finland project The Political Economy of Gambling. Her research interests are the economics, politics, and legal frameworks of gambling, as well as comparative gambling studies.

Mikko J. Virtanen, Faculty of Social Sciences (SOC), Tampere University

Mikko J. Virtanen works currently as Post-Doctoral Researcher in WISE Research Consortium (wiseproject.fi) at Tampere University and Lecturer in Sociology at University of Helsinki. His areas of expertise include social theory, social science methodology, sociology of health and illness as well as science and technology studies.

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Published

2020-04-09

How to Cite

Egerer, M., Marionneau, V., & Virtanen, M. J. (2020). How Luhmann’s systems theory can inform gambling studies. Critical Gambling Studies, 1(1), 12-22. https://doi.org/10.29173/cgs39

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Section

Original Research Articles