Book review
Sergey Tyulenev. Applying Luhmann to Translation Studies: Translation in Society
London: Routledge, 2012. xv + 235 pp. ISBN 978-0-415-89230-8 (hb) £90

Reviewed by Michael Boyden
Table of contents

Do we really need a book that promises to apply Niklas Luhmann’s social systems theory to translation? As Anthony Pym has observed, theories of modern society such as Luhmann’s are based on similar principles and ideas as those which informed the descriptive paradigm of the Tel Aviv and Leuven schools in the seventies and eighties of the last century, so a “sociological turn” in Translation Studies may “risk bringing us back full circle” (Pym 2010, 86). Andrew Chesterman expresses a similar concern when arguing that Luhmann’s theory is more useful for the study of social factors influencing translators and translation products than the translation process itself. Chesterman considers the latter sub-area of the sociology of translation, the sociology of translating, more deserving of further research, given that it “has received the least attention” (Chesterman 2006, 12). In Applying Luhmann to Translation studies, Sergey Tyulenev takes up the gauntlet and attempts to show that a closer examination of Luhmann’s oeuvre may help us to get at a better understanding, not just of how translators work and what motivates their behavior, but also of translation itself as a systemic phenomenon with distinctive properties of its own.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price. Direct PDF access to this article can be purchased through our e-platform.


Bourdieu, Pierre.
2001Langage et pouvoir symbolique. Paris: Seuil.Google Scholar
Chesterman, Andrew.
2006“Questions in the Sociology of Translation.” In Translation Studies at the Interface of Disciplines, ed. by João Ferreira Duarte, Alexandra Assis Rosa, and Teresa Seruya, 9-28. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Habermas, Jürgen.
1979Communication and the Evolution of Society. Translated by Thomas McCarthy. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
Hermans, Theo.
1999Translation in Systems: Descriptive and System-oriented Approaches Explained. Manchester: St. Jerome.Google Scholar
Luhmann, Niklas.
1984Soziale Systeme. Frankfurt a/M.: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
1991Soziologie des Risikos. Berlin: De Gruyter. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1994 “ ‘Distinctions Directrices’: Über Codierung von Semantiken und Systemen.” In Soziologische Aufklärung 4: Beiträge zur funktionalen Differenzierung der Gesellschaft, 2nd ed., 13-31. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.Google Scholar
1995Social Systems. Translated by John Bednarz, and Dirk Baecker. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
1996Die Realität der Massenmedien. 2nd ed. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1997Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft. 2 vols. Frankfurt a/M.: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
[ p. 336 ]
2001 “Einführende Bemerkungen zu einer Theorie symbolisch generalisierter Kommunikationsmedien.” In Aufsätze und Reden, ed. by Oliver Jahraus, 31-75. Stuttgart: Reclam.Google Scholar
2005Einführung in die Theorie der Gesellschaft. Edited by Dirk Baecker. Heidelberg: Carl-Auer.Google Scholar
Parsons, Talcott.
1967 “On the Concept of Influence.” In Sociological Theory and Modern Society, 355-382. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
Pym, Anthony.
2010Exploring Translation Theories. London: Routledge.Google Scholar