The structure/agency debate has been among the central issues in discussions of social theory. It has been widely assumed that the key theoretical task is to find a link between social structures and acting human beings to reconcile the macro with the micro, society and the individual. This book considers a general movement in which the collective concepts established by the early pioneers of modern sociological thought have been reconsidered in the light of both theoretical critique and empirical results. It argues that the contemporary sociological preoccupation with structure and agency has had disastrous effects on the understanding of Karl Marx's ideas. Through a critical evaluation of 'structuration theory' as a purported synthesis of 'structure and agency', the book also argues that the whole idea of a structure-and-agency 'problem' mythologises the fracture lines that do run through relatively recent sociological thought. Michel Foucault's ideas were used to both shore up existing positions in sociology and to instantiate (or solve) the 'new' structure-agency 'problem'. Foucault allowed sociologists to conduct 'business as usual' between the demise of structuralism and the contemporary consensus around Pierre Bourdieu-Anthony Giddens-Jurgen Habermas and the structure-agency dualisms. Habermas is one of the most prominent figures in contemporary social theory.
Way’ emerged in 1998.
There were two publications that marked the emergence
of a ‘Third Way’ discourse: The Third Way: The
Renewal of Social Democracy , by AnthonyGiddens of the London
School of Economics, and The Third Way: New Politics for the New
Century , by Tony Blair. 7 Both publications were given considerable media
coverage, with exposure being particularly given to
of the social democratic Third Way. In
other words, modern European social democracy is so deeply imbricated with
the system that is in crisis that it is in no position to offer an alternative to it.
In pursuit of this argument, I return to my critique of AnthonyGiddens’s
(1998) key contribution to social democratic ideology, The Third Way: The
Renewal of Social Democracy (Ryner, 1999, 2002: 6–54, 2003a). This should
not be seen as expressing some extreme constructivist assumption that ideas
by academics determine political projects. Clearly, European social
-political concerns that the
early 1990s were a period of moral decline. Lastly, an examination of
The Cops (BBC, 1998–2001) determines how digital,
handheld cameras combine docudrama’s emotional realism with the
‘horizontality’ of contemporary
social realism to embody the precariousness of AnthonyGiddens’s
‘new individualism’ whilst critiquing New Labour’s
adoption of ‘left
In the United States, a new historiography and social
theory of consensus was created in such works as Richard
Hofstader’s The American Political Tradition . 22 The sense of living in an interregnum evaporated, as did
the urgency of the concerns of the earlier discussion.
The fresh start
Alasdair MacIntyre, Robert Bellah and AnthonyGiddens are the three most prominent thinkers associated with the concept of
post-traditionalism. None of them ever engaged this earlier literature, and apparently were
to orchestrate, and thus, in some
ways, he can be seen, if not as innocent, at least as a persecuted
and tragic hero who is caught in circumstances outside his
Adopting neoliberalism’s entrepreneurial ethos
of self-responsibility, self-care and determination, Dracula
resolves to become the master of his own fate and engage in what
Relations , 29 ( 4 ).
Juran , J. ( 1974 ) Quality Control
Handbook , 3rd edn ,
New York , McGraw-Hill .
Kaspersen , L. ( 2000 ) AnthonyGiddens: An
Introduction to a Social Theorist , Oxford , Blackwell .
Legge , K. ( 1995 ) Human Resource
Management – Rhetorics and Realities , London , Macmillan
the effort to
re-align and redefine key social values in such a way that they
confirm rather than challenge the logic of capitalism.
AnthonyGiddens’s The Third Way (published
in 1998, and followed two years later by The Third Way and its
Critics ) was advertised and widely understood as presenting a
new politics of the ‘Centre-Left’, adapted to the
onwards) it had ceased to use the term as the defining
motif of its politics (Clift 2004, p. 36). Concurrently, key advocates
such as AnthonyGiddens adopted the term ‘New Social Democracy’
(NSD), as they argued that the debate about the Third Way label was
obscuring the wider aims and ideas that underpin the ‘modernisation’
of social democracy (Giddens 2002; White 2001). The academic discourse has seen some movement toward using the term ‘New Social
Democracy’ rather than ‘Third Way’ (Gamble and Wright 1999). For
the purposes of this book, the Third Way and the NSD