Purpose – The paper combines the systems theoretical perspective on the evolution of societal differentiation and the emergence of codes in communication. By combining the approach by Niklas Luhmann with a historical theology on the development of Christian morality split between God and Devil, it recreates a sociological point of observation on contemporary moral forms by a temporary occupation of the retired Christian Devil.
Design/methodology/approach – The article combines a Luhmannian systems theoretical perspective on the evolution of societal differentiation with a concept of emerging codes in communication. The latter is based on on the development of a Christian view of morality being split between God and Devil. It establishes a sociological point of observation on contemporary moral forms through the temporary invocation of the retired figure of the Christian Devil.
Findings – The proposed perspective develops a healthy perspective on the exuberant distribution of a health(y) morality across the globe during the pandemic crisis of 2020–21. The temporary invocation of the retired Christian Devil as point of departure in this sociological analysis allows for a disturbing view on the unlimited growth of the morality of health and its inherent dangers of dedifferentiating the highly specialised forms of societal differentiation and organisation.
Originality/value – By applying the diabolical perspective, the analytical framework creates a unique opportunity to observe the moral encodings of semantic forms in detail, while keeping the freedom of scientific enquiry to choose amongst available distinctions in the creation of sound empirical knowledge. This article adopts a neutral stance, for the good of sociological analysis. The applications of the term “evil” to observations of communication are indifferent to anything but itself and its qualities as scientific enquiry.
The ahead-of-print version of this article is available for download here.
Keywords: History, Sociology, Systems theory.
Recommended citation: Clausen L. (2021), Diabolical perspectives on healthy morality in times of COVID-19, Kybernetes, ahead-of-print, DOI: 10.1108/K-02-2021-0155.