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  Structuration is a concept introduced into sociology by Anthony Giddens in the 1980s. It expresses the mutual dependency, rather than the more commonly assumed opposition, of human agency (individual activity and action) and social structure (the more enduring and regular features of social life which provide the background against which all social activity is carried out).

Within sociology the debate is centred as to the relative importance of individual action and social structure in determining social phenomena. Some schools of thought emphasize the importance of social structure over individual actions, while others reverse this emphasis. Most tend to accept that structure and agency are complementary. Giddens attempts to articulate the nature of the relationship between social structure and human agency, and in so doing accords primacy to neither.

Within sociology social structure has been seen by some schools of thought as exerting a constraining influence on human behaviour. Giddens suggests that social structures should not be seen as barriers to individual activity, but as intimately involved in the production of human action. It is the structural properties of social systems, argues Giddens, that provide the means by which people act and which, at the same time, are the outcome of these actions. DA

See also action perspective; social order; structuralism; structure-agency debate.Further reading A. Giddens, The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration.



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