A warning when reading
Giddens. Like all sociologists, he seems to feel that he has to
use some words instead of ordinary words. So, 'social agents' or
'social actors' means 'people', 'social totalities' means groups
of people, etc.
Structuration theory: basic points
1. All human
beings are knowledgeable agents. 'Objectivism' fails to appreciate
the complexity of social action produced by actors operating with
knowledge and understanding as part of their consciousness. People
understand the world, often better than sociologists appear to.
2. The extent
of people's knowledge of the world is bordered on the one side by
the unconscious and on the other by the unacknowledged conditions
and intended consequences of action.
3. Day to day
life is bound up with the reproduction of social institutions and
hence it is a valuable area of study. The context of day to day
interaction is an important area of study.
4. The predominant
form of day to day activity takes the form of routine - behaviour
which appears to outsiders as extreme and bizarre becomes routine
after a while, for example with violent or 'evil' behaviour. The
Nazi Holocaust was able to be carried out with such murderous efficiency
partly because it was for the most part a routine activity for those
on behaviour associated with structural properties of the system
are not unique, but are only one type of constraint on the individual
person. There are varying degrees of 'systemness' or 'structuredness'
in society. The predominance of the nation state leads us to think
that societies are clearly bordered and defined when they may not
6. The study
of power is not a secondary consideration for social science. Power
is means to ends, and hence is directly involved in the actions
of every person.
7. Actors (people)
are knowledgeable. Their everyday sociological knowledge feeds into
their behaviour. They have reasons for doing what they do. Because
of that, sociology should not be used as an excuse to explain behaviour
as due to 'society'. People are responsible for their actions.