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A steadily increasing number of scholars across many different disciplines are now taking Niklas Luhmann's writings as a major theoretical source for their work. The collection of essays in this volume offers further evidence of this increasingly broad and enthusiastic reception of Luhmann, and it includes contributions from several distinct fields of inquiry - including social theory, political sociology, political theory, legal theory and social anthropology. It also marks a growing discrimination in the understanding of the complexity of Luhmann's ideas and a refined critical appreciation both of their breadth and of their limitations. Perhaps more than any other theorist in recent history, Luhmann's work has aroused extreme responses and stimulated diverse theoretical receptions. The publication of this book, however, is a clear indication that the preconditions of debate have been altered. Not every contributor to this volume can be described as a fervent supporter of Luhmann's theoretical approach, nonetheless all believe his vision to be original, fascinating and theoretically productive, and all thus insist that it warrants the committed and detailed consideration which this books offers.