Systemic Integration and the Need for De-Integration in Pandemic Times


  • Elena Esposito Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University (Germany) and Department of Political and Social Sciences, University of Bologna (Italy)



Social Integration, Systemic Integration, Pandemic, Inclusion/Exclusion, Systems Theory, Globalization, Differentiation of Society


The condition of social isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic makes most of us aware of the value of sociality – which we now lack. But society is not only sociality, and in the current emergency we perceive it as global interconnectedness that makes the crisis spread from one geographical area to another and between different fields of society. The common response to a global emergency is a call for coordination – the idea that we should “tighten up.” In sociology, this reference to unity and coordination is discussed as integration. The paper argues, referring to systems theory, that the problem of our functionally differentiated society is not lack of integration, but rather an excess of integration. When there are difficulties in one area of society, all others are forced to make serious adjustments. In dealing with threats that come from the environment, the opportunities for rationality in society lie in the maintenance and exploitation of differences, not in their elimination. This hypotheses is discussed dealing with integration on three levels: 1) the consequences of the emergency on the relationships between different fields (or functional subsystems) of society: systemic integration; 2) the effects of the pandemic on the conditions of inclusion and exclusion of individuals in society: social integration; 3) the spread of the emergency in all regions of the world and the consequences for globalization: geographical integration.


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How to Cite

Esposito, E. (2020). Systemic Integration and the Need for De-Integration in Pandemic Times. Sociologica, 14(1), 3–20.



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