Welcome to UP2YOUTH: Youth - actor of social change

Structure - Agency Print

The duality of structure and agency is underlined in Up2Youth. Structure is seen as the organisation; rules and resources, which the agent draws upon in production and reproduction of social life and as a consequence, producing new a structure as well (see social change).

Agents are knowledgeable and active individuals, who act intentionally but not necessarily consciously concerning all potential consequences from the actions made.

Structuration is seen as the process where structures set conditions, possibilities and limitations for the individual to act upon. By getting involved and actively engage in these conditions individuals create biographies and at the same time recreate/-shape structures etc. in a never ending process.

The 2 concepts:

1) Instrumental activism - (individual function) and

2) Institutionalised individualism - (institutional development) are used by Parsons.

Instrumental activism is the response and active involvement from the individual acting in a different way, than could be expected or foreseen according to the institutionalised individualism.

The societal developmental process involves both societal conditions set for (young) people (structure) as well as acknowledgement and active involvement of people acting (agency) within them. Structure/agency plays an important role for investigations in how dialectics between rules (legislation/traditions etc) and resources on the on hand are influenced and changed according to the challenges coming from responses from (young) people.

The duality underlines the question of both whom and how changes comes about regarding societal conditions for young people and their possibilities and constraints of actively coping, overcoming and creating these(see also social integration). (TBJ)



Giddens, Anthony (1984) The Constitution of Society Cambridge, Polity Press, pp. 5-40.

Alexander C,J (1987) Twenty Lectures, Columbia University Press, California.


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Last Updated ( Monday, 22 May 2006 )

Project supported by funding under the European Union's Sixth Research Framework Programme - Coordinated by IRIS e.V.

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