A Dependent Structure of Interdependence: Structure and Agency in Relational Perspective

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In this paper I argue for a relational approach to the agency-structure problem. Structure has three dimensions from this perspective but, at its most fundamental, it is a network comprising social actors (human and corporate) and the relations connecting them. Defined thus structure has measurable properties which generate both opportunities and constraints for actors and which shape processes, such as diffusion, which affect and implicate them. Agency is integral to this model. Actors are the nodes of the network and their relations are built, maintained, modified and broken by way of their interactions. However, I argue that the human organism only fully becomes a social actor by way of interaction. In effect, both agency and structure are emergent properties of social interactions/relations which act back upon and shape those interactions/relations. In addition to resolving theoretical problems this approach has the advantage of facilitating empirical analysis of structure.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021


  • social structure, agency, social actor, social networks, social network analysis, G.H. Mead, relational sociology


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