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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.

Is structuration a solution?
Wes Sharrock

Through a critical evaluation of ‘structuration theory’ as a purported synthesis of ‘structure and agency’ (or, alternatively, structuralism and hermeneutics), I will argue that the whole idea of a structure-and-agency ‘problem’ mythologises the fracture lines that do run through relatively recent sociological thought. The structure-and-agency ‘problem’ is contrived by a powerful structure ‘lobby’ in sociology that takes its own baseline suppositions as self-evident. It, as in the case of structuration theory, considers the ‘problem’ in a

in Human agents and social structures
The myth and reality of social existence
Anthony King

social theorists have also arrived. In contemporary social theory, the ontological landscape is very similar, although the starting point is usually different. Social theorists normally begin with the premise that social order exists and with the fact that individuals are manifestly confronted by potent social institutions which are not of their making. Habermas conceives of modern society as a system of state bureaucracies and economic institutions. In his structuration theory, Giddens also proposes the existence of an objective system, consisting of institutions and

in Human agents and social structures
Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen

competing logics of thinking 12 R     within a security culture, as the relative strength of these logics may change over time. The study furthermore seeks to capture not only how culture structures perception and behaviour, but also how events and actors re-structure culture. It draws on the insights of Anthony Giddens’ ‘theory of structuration’. The structuration theory was formulated in the mid-1980s as an attempt to synthesise the insights of two opposing camps in the field of sociology – structuralism and voluntarism. Whereas the

in Germany, pacifism and peace enforcement
Abstract only
Rick Peterson

wider literature about the material and embodied nature of memory and time. What do we mean by agency? Theory about agency was introduced into archaeology in an influential paper by Barrett (1988). In this paper, he attempted to shift archaeological analysis away from studying patterns in artefacts to finding a How do caves act?71 methodology for thinking about the way that relationships between people were structured (Barrett 1988, 8–10). To do this, Barrett drew to a large degree on the ‘structuration theory’ of Anthony Giddens (1979, 1984). Structuration theory

in Neolithic cave burials
Orla McGarry

alcohol and the implications for social cohesion’, Environment and Planning A , 42 (2010), 8–22. 7 R. Mohammad, ‘Making gender, ma(r)king place: youthful british Pakistani Muslim women's narratives of urban space’, Environment and Planning A , 45 (2013), 1802–1822. 8 B. McGrath and O. McGarry, ‘The religio-cultural dimensions of life for young Muslim women in a small Irish town’, Journal of Youth Studies , 17:7 (2014), 948–964. 9 O. McGarry, ‘Knowing “how to go on”: structuration theory

in Immigrants as outsiders in the two Irelands
Richard Jenkins

some confidence. First, throughout Giddens’ The Constitution of Society (1984), the definitive statement of structuration theory that I have concentrated on here, the emphasis, despite the consistent leitmotif of human agency and discussions of transformation, conflict and contradiction, is overwhelmingly on systemic reproduction and integration. Mild determinism, at least – and perhaps a functionalist impulse, too – seems to be integral to Giddens’ theory of structuration. Second, traces of stronger versions of structural determinism can also be found

in Human agents and social structures
Peter J. Martin

‘there are only, in any given society, a limited number of classes’ (1981[1973]: 106) and that one aim of ‘structurationtheory was to identify the factors which generate ‘identifiable social groupings’ (ibid.: 107). Despite all their efforts, however, the failure of class analysts to identify actual social classes, or even to agree on how many there are or what their ‘boundaries’ are, should remind us that the notion of social class does not refer to an observable entity but is, rather, a concept which leads us to think about patterns of social stratification

in Human agents and social structures
Tim Markham

someone’s speech is less significant than what it has to say about their authority to speak. Bourdieu rejected the tendency of structuralist linguists such as Saussure and Austin to separate ‘internal’ and ‘external’ linguistics, which effectively amounts to treating language as an autonomous object that can be studied discretely (Bourdieu, 1991b: 107–16), insisting that language cannot be conceived in isolation from its social uses. Against Habermas’ theory of communicative action11 (and also Giddens’ (1976; 1979) structuration theory), people do not use language

in The politics of war reporting
Open Access (free)
Agency and selfhood at stake
Lara Apps and Andrew Gow

’, 375. ‘Great pain was inflicted on the accused witches and sorcerers.The pastors were present and asked the prisoners to confess to diabolism. Naturally they did in the end.’ 2 See Ira Cohen, ‘Structuration theory and social praxis ’, Social Theory Today , eds. Anthony Giddens and Jonathan Turner (Stanford: Stanford University Press

in Male witches in early modern Europe