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The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration New Ed Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520057289
ISBN-10: 0520057287
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'It is likely that this book will be regarded as the most important piece of grand sociological theory in English of the past decade.' Mark Poster, University of California

'This book will take its place alongside such major statements of sociological theory as those of Parsons and Habermas. Anyone interested in the state of the social sciences today, the character of social theory or the relevance of philosophy to social theory will now find it essential to grapple with Giddens's bold and incisive book.' Richard Bernstein, Haverford College, USA

'Anthony Giddens's new book is the fullest presentation yet of his theoretical views ... it has the lean, sparse, utterly serious, craftsmanlike qualities we have learned to expect from its author and which make it a real pleasure to read.' Donnis Wrong, Times Higher Education Supplement

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

'It is likely that this book will be regarded as the most important piece of grand sociological theory in English of the past decade.' Mark Poster, University of California

'This book will take its place alongside such major statements of sociological theory as those of Parsons and Habermas. Anyone interested in the state of the social sciences today, the character of social theory or the relevance of philosophy to social theory will now find it essential to grapple with Giddens's bold and incisive book.' Richard Bernstein, Haverford College, USA

'Anthony Giddens's new book is the fullest presentation yet of his theoretical views ... it has the lean, sparse, utterly serious, craftsmanlike qualities we have learned to expect from its author and which make it a real pleasure to read.' Donnis Wrong, Times Higher Education Supplement --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 417 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; New Ed edition (March 25, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520057287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520057289
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In this book Giddens gives us The answers, not only to why societys are like they are - the structural parts as well as the cultural - but allso the reason why we, the actors, let them be like they are. By doing this Giddens puts a final end to the micro-macro disussion of whether society constitutes actors or actors constitutes society, where he through his concept of "duality of structure" implodes the debate by not only defining the action of social reproduction as the constitution of society, but allso explaining the psychological reasons, the need for "ontological security", behind. While avoiding the temptation to reduce either actors to be a function of society or to reduce society to be an aggregate of individuals, makes it possible to discuss the links between as well as within the two analytical parts. Unfortunately his theory still lacks one essential aspect - the social dynamic. As a consequence the reader interested in social change will be mighty dissapointed. In the prospect of explainging social order Giddens develops a theory that lacks any other explanation to social change than the orthodox dogmas of unexpected consequences. My suggestion is that Giddens would do well to adapt the time perspective used by Piotr Sztompka, Margaret Archer and other critical realists. In doing so he would undisputably undermine any concurrence to the title as the one who closed the mest vigouros debate of social sciences in the 20th century.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. Giddens' work is grand on many accounts: it attempts to synthesize the insights of "macro" and "micro" sociology, and in doing so claims to explain the full range of human action using the disciplines of developmental psychology, philosophy, sociology, and human geography. "The Constitution of Society" (CoS) is simply fantastic in comparison with an earlier Giddens piece like "Central Problems in Social Theory" (CPST). While CoS does not give equal space to the myriad of social concepts it discusses, I found the book well organized and quite thorough on several important points.

I will not provide a restatement of Giddens' "structuration" theory in this review, although doing so might be of use to many amazon.com readers. Instead I'd like to discuss Giddens' primary motivation for developing structuration theory: an attempt to clarify the relationship between both material and social situations and human action. Giddens is an action theorist who, particularly like Marx and Weber, has tried to explain this quintessential sociological relationship.

Like CPST, CoS is organized around select elements of Marx's sociology. While this may be more readily apparent in the case of the former monograph, one need only read page xxi of CoS's introduction to get the picture: "This book, indeed, might be accurately described as an extended reflection upon a celebrated and oft-quoted phrase to be found in Marx. Marx comments that 'Men [let us immediately say human beings] make history, but not in circumstances of their own choosing.' Well, so they do. But what a diversity of complex problems of social analysis this apparently innocuous pronouncement turns out to disclose!
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Format: Paperback
I think Giddens' structuration theory is the most promising theory since collapse of Parsons' framework.I read this book at undergraduate for the first time. while I studied Husserl and Heidegger at the same time. this help me understand Giddens with ease. I recommend to read Heidegger's Sein und Zeit to see the motive under Giddens' theory. this is not hidden fact. Giddens himself noted it several times. without philosopical background knowledge, it's impossible to access him properly. u will see my point if u read the first page of his 'Central Problem of Social Theory'. I agree to Turner's point that Giddens' theoretical framework is vague at best sencitising for actual research. concepts are clearly defined but how those concepts are related to each other is not that clear. reader himself should fill the gaps. one should make up for this difficulty with grasping Giddens' deep motive under framework. to do so, u should know well the tradition of Sociology and modern philosophy.
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Format: Paperback
This is Giddens' magnum opus, and the crucial breakpoint in modern social theory. I do think that to really understand his structuration theory, you also need to read 'New Rules of Sociological Method', 'Central Problems of Social Theory,' and for how his thought evolved, 'Consequences of Modernity', 'Modernity and Self-Identity', and probably 'Beyond Left and Right'. [Not to mention the work of other theorists with which his is intertwined.] After those works he turned to relatively practical politics, forswore high structuration theory, and basically went out into left field. But 'Constitution of Society' is his central integration. I can't really describe its substance here, but there are a number of good summaries. I'll try to indicate its aims and significance.

Giddens does somewhat deep scholarship in very select places, but he doesn't really write detailed explanatory analyses a la Bourdieu's '...Theory of Practice' or densely layered theory like Habermas. Those aren't his goals. What he purposefully does is survey, critique, conceptually transform, integrate, and redirect the ideas of social theory. He doesn't go deep because he has to be broad instead--there's too much to transform and integrate. Obviously, to achieve those goals, he has to be eclectic and disrespect disciplinary boundaries; those aren't flaws unless the product is in error in other ways. I don't see most critiques of structuration theory accurately identifying its real concepts, goals, and claims, so their counterarguments rarely have any force.

Giddens' transfiguration of social-theoretic concepts is decisive. He has mastered the art of insightfully summing up main paths of thought, showing their weaknesses, retaining their insights.
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