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Dualism and duality: An examination of the structure-agency debate.

le Boutillier, Shaun (2008) Dualism and duality: An examination of the structure-agency debate. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Within the structure-agency debate the works of Margaret Archer and Anthony Giddens represent opposite opinions of the society-person connection and the status of social types. Their views are defined, respectively, by an adherence to dualism or duality. Whilst Archer's theory requires ontological proof that social structures, as emergent phenomena, exist sui generis Giddens' argument, based on a commitment to hermeneutics and pragmatism carries no such ontological baggage. I argue that the demands of Archer's and Bhaskar's realism are unmet and that duality is the most plausible position to hold in the structure-agency debate. In Chapter One I set out Giddens' theory and note his rejection of relativism in favour of pragmatism. In Chapter Two I argue that the bedrock of Archer's theory, Bhaskar's naturalism, when carried to the social sciences, is flawed by the inability to 'close' systems. In Chapter Three I show how realists have modified Bhaskar's realism in order to separate structure from agency. However, as with past attempts at basing realism on the concept of emergence this raises the spectre of reification. In Chapter Four I discuss and demonstrate the ways in which the concept of supervenience may or may not be helpful in proving the sui generis status of social facts. In the first half of Chapter 5 I make a distinction between morphological and cultural types and demonstrate that separating 'ideas' from those individuals who hold them is nonsensical and therefore dualism is fundamentally flawed. In the second half of the chapter I argue that there are logical grounds for rejecting the transposition of realism from the natural to the social sciences. In Chapter Six I defend Giddens' thesis against criticisms concerning voluntarism, the clarity of the notion of social structure and its relationship to system.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Theory and Methods
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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