Systems theory is based on the belief that when two people exist in a relationship, they have an equal cause and effect on each other. The emphasis is on reciprocity, recursion, and shared responsibility. Throughout a relationship, people develop patterns of interaction and in order to understand those patterns, systems theory takes a wholistic approach to understanding that interaction. Rather than considering one event as defining the interaction, systems theory examines the relationship between individuals based on the whole context.
(Becvar & Becvar, 2000) Socialization occurs through this process, not in a linear fashion, but as one individual impacts another. Patterns of socialization are often depicted in popular culture. This essay will review the film, While You Were Sleeping, in terms of systems theory analysis and examine different concepts within systems theory. Recursion Recursive organization or reciprocal causality does not consider cause and effect. As part of systems theory, recursion considers the people and relationships in terms of their mutual influence or mutual interaction, rather than individuals in isolation.
Relationships are understood in terms of how one individual interacts with and influences the other. Meaning within that relationship is derived from that interaction and influence. In the film, While You Were Sleeping, Lucy works as a ticket seller for the “L” train. Lucy is a lonely individual, with no family. Lucy’s self-perception is defined by her work and her life, and the interactions that she has with individuals. Lucy works in an isolated booth, with little interaction with others. Customers drop their money in a slot and Lucy provides them with a token, with little interaction.
Customers need a token to ride the train and Lucy provides the token. Meaning is derived from this relationship between Lucy and her customers as each defines the other. Lucy has an interest in one customer, Peter Gallagher. Initially, their relationship is defined by their mutual interaction and mutual influence. Peter needs a token to ride the train, and Lucy gives him one. There is no interaction between the two other than that. Therefore their relationship will be maintained in the same manner that it is currently functioning, until the interaction changes. When Peter is mugged and falls on the tracks, Lucy saves him.
Immediately their relationship is changed. Although Peter does not interact with Lucy, because he is unconscious, their relationship takes on an intimacy that had not been present before. Lucy feels closer to Peter because of the change in their relationship. Lucy’s life takes on new meaning because of this interaction. Feedback Feedback is described in terms of positive and negative, and refers to self-correction. As described by Powers, in Becvar and Becvar, feedback is all-pervasive, “we know nothing of our own behavior but the feedback effects of our own inputs.
” (Becvar & Becvar, 2000) Positive feedback occurs when a change has been made to a system, and the system accepts that change. Negative feedback indicates that no change is taking place, and the system maintains the status quo. Positive and negative are not expressions of value judgments in this way, and do not indicate if something is good or bad, but are understood in terms of their effect on the system. The feedback from Peter’s family, toward Lucy, can be described as positive. Following Lucy’s rescue of Peter at the train station, Lucy goes to the hospital and is mistakenly identified as Peter’s fiance.
When introduced as Peter’s fiance to the family, and the one who saved his life, Peter’s family is shocked by this announcement. This is a change to their family system and they accept it, the end result being positive feedback. Even when Peter awakes from his coma, and learns that his family believes Lucy to be his fiance, Peter accepts this change resulting in more positive feedback. On the basis of Lucy’s behavior, the family system accepts her, welcomes her, and understands her as part of the family.