Against Structure: A Critique of Morphogenetic Social Theory

  title={Against Structure: A Critique of Morphogenetic Social Theory},
  author={Anthony King},
  journal={The Sociological Review},
  pages={199 - 227}
  • A. King
  • Published 1 May 1999
  • Philosophy
  • The Sociological Review
This article criticises the ontology of Margaret Archer's morphogenetic social theory, arguing that the concept of autonomous social structure on which she bases this social theory is contradictory. Against the ontological contradictions of Archer's work, the article tries to re-habilitate the interpretive tradition which Archer dismisses, showing that only this tradition provides a logically coherent and methodologically useful social ontology, which consists only of individuals and their… 

For emergence : Refining archer's account of social structure

The question of social structure and its relationship to human agency remains one of the central problems of social theory. One of the most promising attempts to provide a solution has been Margaret

How Not to Structure a Social Theory

In his recent review of my book, The Structure of Social Theory, Karsten Stueber rejected my criticisms of contemporary social theory. Against my “hermeneutic” sociology which prioritizes human

For Emergence

  • Sociology
  • 2020
The question of social structure and its relationship to human agency remains one of the central problems of social theory. One of the most promising attempts to provide a solution has been Margaret

Ontogenesis Versus Morphogenesis Towards an Anti-realist Model of the Constitution of Society

This article firstly criticizes Margaret Archer’s Morphogenetic Approach for being indecisive about the realist notion of emergence it proposes as well as for her inadequate account of structural

Refusing the Realism—Structuration Divide

This article argues against the view put forward by Margaret Archer that there is an irreconcilable divide between realist social theory and structuration theory. Instead, it argues for the

For “Central Conflation”

Taking a side in the debate over ontological emergentism in social theory, this article defends an outlook that Margaret S. Archer has dubbed “central conflation”: an antidualistic position

Elder-Vass on the Causal Power of Social Structures

In this review essay, I examine the central tenets of sociologist Dave Elder-Vass’s recent contribution to social ontology, as put forth in his book The Causal Power of Social Structures: Emergence,

Institutions in/cognito: the political constitution of agency

Operating at the boundaries of philosophy of mind, cognitive science, politics and social theory, this thesis aims to develop an interdisciplinary model of the relationship between agency and

Morphogenetic theory and the constructivist institutionalist challenge

  • J. Newman
  • Sociology
    Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour
  • 2018
This article engages with two meta-theoretical approaches to social analysis, ‘morphogenetic theory’ and ‘constructivist institutionalism’, and specifically explores how the former fares under the

Making Hay with Actualism? The Need for a Realist Concept of Structure

This article criticises the ontological assumptions outlined in Colin Hay's recent book Political Analysis (2002). It takes issue with Hay's interpretation of critical realism, in particular his



Realist social theory: The morphogenetic cycle

The Morphogenetic Cycle: the basis of the morphogenetic approach 7. Structural and cultural conditioning 8. The morphogenesis of agency 9. Social elaboration.

Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom

This book attacks purely analytical modes of thinking. Bhaskar develops a critical realist philosophy, which isolates the definition of being in terms of knowledge as the characteristic flaw of

Social Integration and System Integration: Developing the Distinction

This paper underlines the importance of the distinction between `social' and `system' integration (agency and structure) introduced by David Lockwood in 1964. Its four sections (i) examine the

Sociological Theory: What went Wrong?: Diagnosis and Remedies

Social theory is open to many passing currents. Claims to originality tend to thrive and past achievements are often ignored. In Sociologiocal Theory: What Went Wrong? Mouzelis claims that "problems"

Scientific Realism and Human Emancipation

Following on from Roy Bhaskar's first two books, A Realist Theory of Science and The Possibility of Naturalism, Scientific Realism and Human Emancipation, establishes the conception of social science

Method in Social Science: A Realist Approach

The second edition of Popper's 'falsificationism' examines the problems of explanation and the aims of social science through the lens of theory and method.

A realist theory of science

Now acknowledged as a classic in the philosophy of science, A Realist Theory of Science is one of the very few books which has transformed, not only our understanding of science, but that of the

Culture and Agency: The Place of Culture in Social Theory

People are inescapably shaped by the culture in which they live, while culture itself is made and remade by people. Human beings in their daily lives feel a genuine freedom of thought and belief, yet

Review Essay: Old Wine in New Bottles

  • B. Giesen
  • Law
    American Journal of Sociology
  • 1997
Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenetic Approach. By Margaret Archer. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Pp. xii+354. $59.95 (cloth); $19.95 (paper).

The Structure of Social Action

S OCIAL science has suffered from certain major deficiencies. Chief among them has been the lack of a general systematic theory by which to comprehend the generality of social facts and through which