structuration theory


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Fig. 33 Structuration theory.

structuration theory

the approach to sociological theory adopted by Anthony GIDDENS, in which social relations are seen as structured in time and space as the outcome of the operation of a DUALITY OF STRUCTURE. In this approach (see Fig. 33) the intention is that neither agency or structure is accorded Structuralist or Voluntarist Theories Giddens’ Structurationist Alternative Characterization of Structure structure or agency ‘duality of structure’; the interrelation of action and structure Characterization of Actor agents as supports of structure (‘cultural dopes’) or as purely voluntaristic knowledgeability of actors/conscious intentionality- but in context of structure as medium and outcome of agency and interaction

primacy in sociological explanations. Giddens presents structuration theory as an ‘ontology’ to aid analysis and as an orientation in social research, rather than a finished theory. However, opinion is divided as to how far Giddens has been successful in achieving his objective or whether his own work continues to exhibit a bias towards individual agency (see Bryant and Jary 1990). see STRUCTURE AND AGENCY. Problems also exist with aspects of the conception of'structure’ used by Giddens (see also STRUCTURE, sense 2) which refers to ‘rules and resources’ (including ‘memory traces’) and can be ‘virtual’ rather than possessing a particular time-space location (a conception that draws on STRUCTURALISM). In the view of some theorists (e.g. J. Thompson, 1989), this is to lose the substantive, institutional and constraining aspects uppermost in other senses of'social structure’. However, a defence of Giddens would be that this sense of 'social structure’ is not lost in Giddens, even though the term 'structure’ is reserved for ‘rules and resources’.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
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