Sociology Index


Structuration is a term used by British sociologist Anthony Giddens in order to capture elements of macro and micro-sociology, structure and agency, determinism and free will. By structuration Giddens means that human actors recreate through their interactions (and this makes social change possible) the very social structures which constrain their actions. It involves the reproduction on a daily basis of the structures and institutions of society.

Refusing the Realism-Structuration Divide - Rob Stones, UNIV OF ESSEX, UK - This article argues against the view put forward by Margaret Archer that there is an irreconcilable divide between realist social theory and structuration theory. Instead, it argues for the systematic articulation of the two theories at both the ontological and the methodological levels. Each has developed a range of insightful and commensurable conceptualizations either missing or underdeveloped in the other.

Archer's contention that structuration theory rejects the notion of `analytical dualism' central to the realist approach is shown to be mistaken; Giddens's rejection of `dualism' refers to a different conceptualization of the term. Similarly, Archer's critique of structuration's notion of a `duality' involving structure and agency is rejected by showing that Archer's own morphogenetic approach itself relies upon such a notion. A final section distinguishes between six key problematics of social analysis. It is clear that, for a large number of possible questions within the majority of these problematics, it is a combination of both ontologies that would facilitate the most adequate substantive account.

Handle with Care - On the Use of Structuration Theory within Criminology 
Barry Vaughan, Institute of Public Administration, Dublin, Ireland. The author would like to thank Ian O’Donnell for his attempts at purging the text of its infelicities and especially Margaret Archer, to whom this paper is so obviously indebted, for helping to sort out the deadwood from the trees. 
This paper critically examines how Anthony Giddens’s theory of structuration has been utilized within criminological studies. It suggests that rather than resolving many traditional dilemmas within sociology, structuration theory effaces them by compacting together structure and agency. Adverting to the critical literature on structuration theory, it points out the consequences of binding structure and agency together so tightly. The distinctive properties of each are collapsed into social practices which entail that structure is defined virtually—in terms of rules and resources—so that it does not have an objective existence. This confers a spurious malleability upon social structures, yet structuration theory is unable to specify when transformation will occur, and also fails to explain why there should be change since agents are overwhelmingly concerned with the preservation of security through the adherence to routines. These and other deleterious consequences are drawn out through an examination of three studies that incorporate structuration theory and they are traced to an unwillingness to conceive of social reality as being multidimensional, with each level possessing its own distinctive properties.

Challenges in Conducting Empirical Work Using Structuration Theory: Learning from IT Research - Marlei Pozzebon, HEC Montreal, Canada, Alain Pinsonneault, McGill Univ, Canada,
Giddens’s structuration theory is increasingly used as an alternative approach to studying numerous organizational phenomena. However, the applicability of Giddens’s concepts is not without difficulties because of two main challenges. First, structuration theory is complex, involving concepts and general propositions that operate at a high level of abstraction. Second, structuration theory is not easily coupled to any specific research method or methodological approach, and it is difficult to apply empirically. Arguing that structuration theory is a valuable framework for a rich understanding of management, organization and related subjects of inquiry, this paper aims to improve the application of structuration theory in empirical work by drawing on the experience in information technology (IT) research. It identifies patterns of use of Giddens’s theory in publications in the domain of IT, and then describes how IT researchers have attempted to address its major empirical challenges. The paper presents a repertoire of research strategies that might guide students of organization in dealing with three elements that are central to structuration theory: duality of structure, time/space and actors’ knowledgeability.

Organizational Adaptive Capacity - A Structuration Perspective 
Udo Staber, Universitat Augsburg, Germany, Jorg Sydow, Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany 
Conventional approaches to organizational effectiveness and survival in highly volatile and complex environments focus on adaptation strategies of cost cutting and rationalization. The authors propose that building adaptive capacity is a more appropriate organizational strategy in such environments. Using Giddens's structuration theory, they discuss multiplexity, redundancy, and loose coupling as important structural dimensions of adaptive capacity.

Using Giddens’s Structuration Theory to Examine the Waning Participation of African Americans in Baseball - David Ogden, Randall A. Rose, University of Nebraska at Omaha 
Baseball is on the decline in African American culture. The percentage of African Americans in the major leagues is at its lowest point since 1968, for example. This article employs structuration theory, a comprehensive social theory developed by British sociologist Anthony Giddens, to examine the evolution of African Americans’ involvement in baseball from the heyday of the Negro leagues to the historically low level of participation today. Structuration theory has the capability of facilitating a rich, multifaceted analysis of this situation, at both macro and micro levels, through employing such constructs as routine, ontological security, identity, rule and resource structures, and positioning.