Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenetic Approach

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Cambridge University Press, Oct 19, 1995 - Philosophy - 354 pages
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Building on her seminal contribution to social theory in Culture and agency, Margaret Archer develops here her morphogenetic approach, applying it to the problem of structure and agency. Since structure and agency constitute different levels of stratified social reality, each possesses distinctive emergent properties which are real and causally efficacious but irreducible to one another. The problem, therefore, is shown to be how to link the two rather than conflate them, as has been common practice - whether in upwards conflation (by the aggregation of individual acts) downwards conflation (through the structural orchestration of agents), or, more recently, in central conflation which holds the two to be mutually constitutive and thus precludes any examination of their interplay by eliding them. Realist social theory: the morphogenetic approach thus not only rejects methodological individualism and collectivism, but argues that the debate between them has been replaced by a new one between elisionary theorizing (such as Giddens' structuration theory) and the emergentist theories based on a realist ontology of the social world. The morphogenetic approach is the sociological complement of transcendental realism, and together they provide a basis for non-conflationary theorizing which is also of direct utility to the practising social analyst.
  

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Contents

The vexatious fact of society
1
The problems of structure and agency four alternative solutions
31
Individualism versus Collectivism querying the terms of the debate
33
Methodological Individualism
34
Methodological Collectivism
46
Contesting the terms of the traditional debate
57
Taking time to link structure and agency
65
Elision and central conflation
93
Four institutional configurations and their situational logics
218
Four cultural configurations and their situational logics
229
The Morphogenesis of agency
247
the double morphogenesis
257
the triple morphogenesis
274
genesis and morphogenesis
280
Social elaboration
294
The conditions of morphogenesis and morphostasis
295

Realism and morphogenesis
135
The morphogenetic cycle
163
Analytical dualism the basis of the morphogenetic approach
165
stability and change
170
Structural and cultural conditioning
195
Exchange power and the stratified nature of social reality
297
When is there morphostasis and when morphogenesis?
308
Analytical histories of emergence
324
Index
345
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