Karl Deutsch and His Communication Model:
Karl Deutsch, in his book, “The Nerves of Government“, works out in detail an analogy between the machines, the human beings and the social systems, more particularly the political system.
According to Davies and Lewis, Deutsch is able to perceive similarities in processes and functional requirements between living things, electronic machines and social machines and social organizations, and having rejected the other models of the analysis suggests that cybernetic analysis is relevant to the understanding of the social systems, since they do in their process “resemble” other types of reorganizations: the brain, the computer, the society, all characteristics which made them organizations. They have the capacity to transmit and react to information. Karl Deutsch himself says that the models of the cybernetic system can, therefore, replace the classic analogues or models of mechanism, organization and process, which so long have dominated so much scientific thinking. A cybernetic model directs the analyst to specific aspects of any system. According to Davies and Lewis, “He is led to analyse the amount or variety of information network, the structure of sub-systems, the feedback system, the organization of system’s memory mechanisms and the rules which determine the behaviour of the system”.
Deutsch says that society and the political system survive and develop at least partly because they contain mechanisms that allow or encourage habit-forming and the other activities that go with this: the acquiring of information; the selection and storage of this information; the selection and norms relating to the use of the information gained”. It is through characterizing society in this manner that Deutsch is able to conclude that “the inner source of political power, the relatively coherent and stable structures of memories, habits and values depend on existing facilities for social communication both from the past to the present and between contemporaries” and to suggest that in a political system “information precedes compulsion”. Government, then, for Deutsch, ought to be seen as involving “Steering”. In these terms, he maintains, the government in a political system and of a society is “analogous to the steering of a ship; it is a form of administration of communication channels. It might be more profitable at the level of analysis to look upon government somewhat less as a problem of power and somewhat more as a problem of steering and………steering as decisively a matter of communication”.
General Features- According to Davies and Lewis three points are noticeable in Deutsch’s analysis of communication-
(1) First, Deutsch views the sub-systems (parties, interest groups) as, so to speak, miniature communication systems, interconnected and open, but also to some extent capable of steering themselves and with mechanisms (human and institutional) that allow them to adopt and modify their structures and behaviour”.
(2) Secondly, the concept of growth of a political system must be understood also in these terms. It indicates the capacity of a system to apply the information that it has acquired, to apply its learning capacity to-
- Increasing its openness, that is to refining its channels through which it receives information.
- Increasing its capacity to respond effectively to its environment.
- Increasing the range of diversity of the goals which it has the capacity to set itself to puruse and achieve.
(3) Finally, we can deduce that for Deutsch, a society or a political system that is to be seen as a “self-steering organization, must be viewed as a historical system, that is to say, it must possess memory. A society must, if it is to be self-steering, receive information from three sources; from its external environment (it must be an open system), from its internal environment (that is, information about the state and behaviour of its own parts) and from the past”.
Thus, in the view of Karl W. Deutsch, the political system is nothing but a communication network, ‘a communication system with processes and mechanisms for the acquisition, collection and transmission, selection and storage of information, developed over a period of time’.