Full Text

Agency–Structure Relationship


Subject Sociology » Sociological and Social Theory

Key-Topics agency, structure

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Modern societies based on free association have come to regard their dynamics as a goal in itself. Along with individualization, the significance of “companionships in progression” also grew – and especially that of their supreme forms: states, nations, or publics. Durkheim linked this paradox with the mystery of organic solidarity: “Why does the individual, while becoming more autonomous, depend more upon society?” ( Durkheim, 1965 : 38). He proposed a structuralist and rather synchronic solution: increasingly differentiated structures – arranged beliefs, tendencies and practices of the group taken collectively that are “refracted” as things through individuals – become a reality sui generis . This tradition of methodological holism crystallized in de Saussure's linguistic structuralism and gave rise to the second mystery of structural change, as popularized by management science: How do structures change if they exert such powerful influence on the ways in which individuals and organizations can jointly act? If we take individual autonomy for granted, we are obliged to face the third and least noticeable mystery of agency efficacy: How is it possible in dynamic societies that seemingly reasonable joint actions are also likely to become reality? Thanks to their personal experience, people are highly selective in using the configuring and hope-giving capacity of agency for world-making. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top