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Edited by Laura Anna Costanzo and Robert Bradley MacKay
David Weir, Craig Marsh and Wilf Greenwood* Beyond structure and agency The debate about the relative signiﬁcance of structure and agency continues to be at the heart of much organizational analysis, and has largely been polarized around two antonymic positions – the so-called ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ theories, ‘structure’ versus ‘agency’. The theoretical framework for this chapter attempts to move beyond these antonymic positions by building on theories which are inclusive rather than exclusive of both the ‘micro’ and ‘macro’ positions – the critical realism of Bhaskar (1975), the sociology of Bourdieu (1977,  1990) and the autopoietic organization theory of Luhmann (Luhmann 2003; Hernes and Bakken 2003; Mingers 1995). Our framework, assumes, ﬁrst of all, social structures which precede individual interpretation and action and that therefore exist independently of that action. We are persuaded by the critical realist position which argues that there are aspects of social reality which are unknown and unknowable by actors, and which have material inﬂuence on their interpretations and their practices. What exists is therefore conceptually, at least, distinct from what can be known. For a description of the relationship between practice and structure, we ﬁnd Bourdieu’s concept of the ‘intermediary’ of ‘habitus’ persuasive. Pre-existing social conditions act as conditioner of a series of ‘predispositions’ in the agent that orient, subconsciously, practice without the practice being the unreﬂective following of predetermined norms. These predispositions also serve to reconstruct an inﬁnite (but nevertheless determined) number of possibilities for future social structures, in the way...
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