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New Book

NEW BOOK - September 2003

'Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation'

By Margaret Archer. Cambridge University Press.

Margaret Archer

Margaret Archer

How does structure influence human agents? Determinism is never the answer and conditioning has always been an incomplete one. What 'conditioning' accentuates is how both structure and culture shape the social contexts that agents confront involuntarily. What it neglects are voluntaristic personal powers - to define what we care about most, to determine what we seek from society, and to deliberate about establishing a social modus vivendi, expressive of our concerns. Archer maintains that objective conditioning is subjectively mediated by agents through "their internal conversations".

Through inner dialogue, agents reflect upon their social situations in the light of their concerns and monitor their projects in the light of their circumstances. This explains how all active agents achieve some governance over their own lives in society, which was not of their making.

From in depth interviews, Archer detects three excitingly distinct forms of internal conversation. These three modes of reflexivity result in different responses to constraints and enablements, different patterns of individual social mobility, and different agential contributions to societal morphostasis or morphogenesis.

Book cover

Cover design

Hence, the internal conversation is advanced as the missing micro-macro link between individual and society - and thus between structure and agency.