Definition extracted with permission from Simon, Fritz, et al, Family Process, Inc.:[amazon 0961551909 inline]
Living systems are able to develop a certain independence from their environment. The behavior of living systems is to a variable degree internally or externally controlled. The concept of autonomy or emancipation (be it of an individual or of a family) must encompass this aspect of constant interaction with the environment. From a systems point of view, autonomy or emancipation can be seen as an aspect of self-organization.