R. Rocco Cottone, PhD, is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Marital and Family Counseling Sequence, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Marillac Hall 469, St. Louis, MO 63121-4499.
BEYOND LINEARITY AND CIRCULARITY: DECONSTRUCTING SOCIAL SYSTEMS THEORY
Article first published online: 8 JUN 2007
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy
Volume 18, Issue 2, pages 167–177, April 1992
How to Cite
Cottone, R. R. and Greenwell, R. J. (1992), BEYOND LINEARITY AND CIRCULARITY: DECONSTRUCTING SOCIAL SYSTEMS THEORY. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 18: 167–177. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.1992.tb00927.x
R. Rocco Cottone and Robert Greenwell are equal co-authors.
- Issue published online: 8 JUN 2007
- Article first published online: 8 JUN 2007
This article attempts to clarify the concepts of linearity and circularity as applied to marital and family therapy, especially in light of the credible challenge to the concept of circular causality by feminist theorists. Distinct and theoretically legitimate meanings of linearity are defined-proportionality, unilaterality, and temporality. Circularity is redefined into two distinct meanings-recursivity and holicity. The two meanings of circularity are then subdivided in accord with Bateson's guiding distinction between “substance” and “form” (i.e., physical force and mental information). This reworking of systemic concepts is described as important as a means to justify reformulation of theory in the field. The article concludes with a call for continued deconstruction of social systems concepts as a means toward refinement of the systemic paradigm or as a means toward development of a new paradigm, which, in either case, should acknowledge individual and relational realities.