Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation
The central problem of social theory is 'structure and agency'. How do the objective features of society influence human agents? Determinism is not the answer, nor is conditioning as currently conceptualised. It accentuates the way structure and culture shape the social context in which individuals operate, but it neglects our personal capacity to define what we care about most and to establish a modus vivendi expressive of our concerns. Through inner dialogue, 'the internal conversation', individuals reflect upon their social situation in the light of current concerns and projects. On the basis of a series of unique, in-depth interviews, Archer identifies three distinctive forms of internal conversation. These govern agents' responses to social conditioning, their individual patterns of social mobility and whether or not they contribute to social stability or change. Thus the internal conversation is seen as being the missing link between society and the individual, structure and agency.
- Online resource
- 05 Jul 2014
- Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
- Cambridge, United Kingdom
- 1 table
'... a richly rewarding book ... Archer has given us, again, a good number of ideas to think with and about.' Journal of Critical Realism
Table of contents
Introduction: how does structure influence agency?; Part I. Solitude and Society: 1. The private life of the social subject; 2. From introspection to internal conversation: an unfinished journey in three stages; 3. Reclaiming the internal conversation; 4. The process of mediation between structure and agency; Part II. Modes of Reflexivity and Stances Towards Society: 5. Communicative reflexives; 6. Autonomous reflexives; 7. Meta-reflexives; 8. Fractured reflexives; Conclusion: personal powers and social powers.
About Margaret S. Archer
Margaret S. Archer is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. An internationally respected social theorist, she was the first woman to become President of the International Sociological Association and is a former editor of Current Sociology. Previous publications include Culture and Agency (1988), Realist Social Theory (1995), Being Human: The Problem of Agency (2000).