Conceptualizing Social Agency in Unstable Society: Between Micro and Macro Levels

Conceptualizing Social Agency in Unstable Society:
Between Micro and Macro Levels

Dudina V.I.

Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Assoc. Prof., Faculty of Sociology, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia

ID of the Article:

The research was supported by RSF project No. 22-18-00261.

For citation:

Dudina V.I. Conceptualizing Social Agency in Unstable Society: Between Micro and Macro Levels. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2022. No 11. P. 3-14


The problem of structure/agency, micro/macro is particularly relevant in times of social instability. Despite existence of certain theoretical solutions, this problem is constantly reproduced at the methodological level. The article aims to trace how approaches to solving the micro/macro and structure/agency problem can be implemented in methodology and what prerequisites for this are created in the context of the digitalized research tools and methods. Approaches to solving the problem of structure/ agency, micro/macro within the framework of new materialism and actornetwork theory, are discussed. The question is raised of how ontological and theoretical intentions of these approaches can be implemented in research methodology. As a methodological tool for solving the problem of these dichotomies, the concept pattern is offered which allows describing social reality in a non-hierarchical manner. This concept reflects such properties of social agency as stability, repetition, generality and predictability. Thus, the pattern removes the structure/agency opposition, and emphasizing structured repetitions or replications. Pattern identification reveals regularities of actions themselves instead of revealing actions limited by macrostructures or determined by individual characteristics of the actors studied. It is concluded that the analysis of social activity patterns allows to interpret empirical data without appealing to entities of different levels and removes “micro/macro”, “structure/agency” dichotomies problem.

structure; agency; micro/macro; actor-network theory; new materialism; flat ontology; pattern


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