Full Text

Agency–Structure Relationship

JIŘÍ KABELE


Subject Sociology » Sociological and Social Theory

Key-Topics agency, structure

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Extract

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

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