The opposition of structure and agency
in Human agents and social structures
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This chapter argues that 'seemingly insignificant everyday mundane interactions are constitutive for sociation, society and culture' and contrasted 'clearly visible social structures' with the 'experience' of 'sociated individuals'. Indeed, the apparent opposition between what has been called the 'objective reality of institutions' and the apparently subjective experience of individual human beings has given rise to a basic tension within sociological thought. Given the highly problematic nature of the concept of social structure, it is appropriate to consider why 'structural' explanations have exerted such a tenacious grip on sociological thought. The proper focus of sociological attention, to repeat, is the human world of everyday experience, a world which is neither 'macro' nor 'micro' and cannot be captured analytically by the dualism of 'structure' and 'agency'. The three perspectives most often described as microsociological, symbolic interactionism, phenomenology and ethnomethodology, does reveal certain important similarities.


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