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Agency and Structure: Interpreting Power Relationships

Dowding, Keith

Description

Many of the debates over the 'true' nature of power relationships concern the importance given to agents or to structures in describing those relationships. Writers who discuss the power structure or system tend to concentrate upon structures; those who write about the power of agents or power relationships tend to concentrate upon actors. The agency-structure relationship goes deep into many seemingly different issues in very different approaches to power. I argue that whilst the...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorDowding, Keith
dc.date.accessioned2015-12-08T22:10:29Z
dc.identifier.issn1754-0291
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/29355
dc.description.abstractMany of the debates over the 'true' nature of power relationships concern the importance given to agents or to structures in describing those relationships. Writers who discuss the power structure or system tend to concentrate upon structures; those who write about the power of agents or power relationships tend to concentrate upon actors. The agency-structure relationship goes deep into many seemingly different issues in very different approaches to power. I argue that whilst the agency-structure divide is false, our interpretation of the world - the way in which we describe it - means we cannot fully transcend the structure-agency divide using natural language. Whether we choose to use the language of structures or of agents depends upon the questions we are seeking to answer and commitments we wish to make in assigning responsibility. Those latter commitments do make power assignations normatively driven, though that does not, in itself, entail that they cannot be objectively made. Ultimately, structural and agential accounts can describe the world in non-contradictory ways though the choice of description demonstrates the sorts of commitments the describer has towards changing the world.
dc.publisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group
dc.sourceJournal of Power
dc.subjectKeywords: Agency; Power; Rational choice; Resources; Structuration; Structure
dc.titleAgency and Structure: Interpreting Power Relationships
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolume1
dc.date.issued2008
local.identifier.absfor160609 - Political Theory and Political Philosophy
local.identifier.ariespublicationU8704722xPUB64
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationDowding, Keith, College of Arts and Social Sciences, ANU
local.description.embargo2037-12-31
local.bibliographicCitation.issue1
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage21
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage36
local.identifier.doi10.1080/17540290801943380
dc.date.updated2016-02-24T11:42:56Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-79956244594
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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