Giddens Structure And Agency Pdf

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Dualism and duality: An examination of the structure-agency debate.

In the social sciences there is a standing debate over the primacy of structure or agency in shaping human behaviour. Structure is the recurrent patterned arrangements which influence or limit the choices and opportunities available. The debate over the primacy of structure or of agency relates to an issue at the heart of both classical and contemporary sociological theory : the question of social ontology : "What is the social world made of? Theorists such as Karl Marx , by contrast, emphasize that the social structure can act to the detriment of the majority of individuals in a society. In both these instances "structure" may refer to something both material or " economic " and cultural i. Some theorists put forward that what we know as our social existence is largely determined by the overall structure of society.

Structure and agency

In recent years, dualism has been criticised as exaggerating conceptual divisions and promoting an oversimplified, reductive outlook. This paper argues that duality, if handled carefully, can provide a superior framework to dualism for dealing with the complexity of economic and social institutions. Its main attraction is not its twofold character, which might profitably be relaxed where appropriate, but its ability to envisage a thoroughgoing interdependence of conceptually distinct elements. Jackson, W. Report bugs here.

Within the structure-agency debate the works of Margaret Archer and Anthony Giddens represent opposite opinions of the society-person connection and the status of social types. Their views are defined, respectively, by an adherence to dualism or duality. Whilst Archer's theory requires ontological proof that social structures, as emergent phenomena, exist sui generis Giddens' argument, based on a commitment to hermeneutics and pragmatism carries no such ontological baggage. I argue that the demands of Archer's and Bhaskar's realism are unmet and that duality is the most plausible position to hold in the structure-agency debate. In Chapter One I set out Giddens' theory and note his rejection of relativism in favour of pragmatism. In Chapter Two I argue that the bedrock of Archer's theory, Bhaskar's naturalism, when carried to the social sciences, is flawed by the inability to 'close' systems. In Chapter Three I show how realists have modified Bhaskar's realism in order to separate structure from agency.

Back to Sociological Theory pp Cite as. While there are many sociologists who are interested in theory per se , very few have made any marked contribution to sociological theory. As I have argued already in the introduction, by overreacting to the sociological provincialism of the early post-war period, theoretically-minded sociologists in this country are at present so much absorbed, not to say overpowered, by developments in other disciplines particularly in epistemology, moral philosophy, and linguistics that they fail to translate the insights generated in such neighbouring fields into appropriate sociological concepts. The theoretical cosmopolitanism that has succeeded the introverted, sociology-centred theory of the early s and s has not managed to provide any systematically useful concepts for sociologists interested in theoretically-oriented empirical work. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content.


Giddens makes a direct appeal, therefore, offering concepts of agency, structure and structuration that have intrinsic importance to practice.


Structuration theory

The nexus of structure and agency has been a central tenet in the field of sociology since its inception. Structures operate at varying levels, with the research lens focused at the level appropriate to the question at hand. At its highest level, society can be thought to consist of mass socioeconomic stratifications such as through distinct social classes. On a mid-range scale, institutions and social networks such as religious or familial structures might form the focus of study, and at the microscale one might consider how community or professional norms constrain agency.

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Dualism and duality: An examination of the structure-agency debate.

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Dualism, duality and the complexity of economic institutions

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