Human Agency, the Structuration Process, and Social Systems: Linking Micro, Meso, and Macro Levels of Analysis

This chapter presents the following three perspectives on how individuals’ actions link them together in various social systems—micro, meso, or macro:

  • Anthony Giddens’ structuration theory—This perspective provides an analysis of the interrelations of agency and structure. Agency reflects intentional activities whereby individuals seek to satisfy their needs and goals while structure refers to the already-existing rules and resources employed in such actions.

  • Walter Buckley’s morphogenic open systems theory—In this analysis the cultural patterns and social relations in which people are involved are viewed in terms of feedback cycles that sometimes reinforce novel and innovative behaviors. Through this process social structures are constantly being elaborated and changed.

  • Niklas Luhmann’s autopoietic model of social systems—Social system are seen in this model as being self-created through communication codes whereby their internal patterns of organized complexity are distinguished from the unorganized complexity of their environment. These three theories are quite distinct, with none of them developed with specific reference to the others. All three theories make extensive reference to ideas discussed in earlier chapters.


Social System Human Agency Structuration Theory Social World Constitutive Rule 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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