This ungainly neologism has been borrowed from biology and systems theory, where it refers to the idea that systems may be self-producing. The orderliness of biological cells, for example, is primarily generated by the operation of the cells themselves, not by external factors. Certain computer programs can also be written so as to create self-organising environments. Recently, sociologists have adopted this language as a way of trying to capture how it is that societies generate their own orderliness. At present, this seems to be merely the latest in a long line of borrowings from the life sciences and most uses of the term, including those by Niklas Luhmann, seem to be metaphorical rather than literal.