Reading Guide to: Giddens, A (1979) Central Problems in Social Theory: Action, Structure and Contradiction in Social Analysis, London: The Macmillan Press Ltd
The notion of structuration draws attention to the objective, manifest and active parts of human behaviour and the concreteness of the social systems in which they live. It draws attention to the actualised elements, laid out in space and time, and acting as a process: this helps us avoid running together motives, acts and their social consequences. There is an emphasis on action or praxis, as opposed to say the metaphor of society as a language. Here, an actor's knowledge can be discursive, but this is still limited in its social impact and can be constrained by the power held by others. The approach leads to a form of ideology-critique which is not just epistemological but which draws attention to particular interests masking as generalisable ones -- how this arises is the issue for a critical sociology to investigate. As for functionalism, it is good at pointing out unintended consequences of action, but the effects of these are collapsed and rendered as the goals of society itself. Functionalism really requires some sort of analysis of the sedimenting forces [the ways in which social institutions actually congeal so to speak -- see Berger and Luckmann], some theory of temporality, an historical dimension (while we are here, historians often ignore structural dimensions in turn). Overall then we have a programme for an adequate social science in structuration theory, which avoids the obvious problems with structuralism, marxism, and functionalism respectively.
Chapter 1 Structuralism and the Theory of the Subject
This chapter focuses upon approaches in structural linguistics and structuralism.
In criticising Saussure, Giddens draws attention to the impossibilities of discussing social systems as if they were merely purely formal combinations of units and rules. This conception ignores a number of important aspects of social life: (a) the activities of human actors in interpreting and using rules and combinations to construct a subjective reality; (b) the duality of social structure itself, which has both a real and virtual existence -- structuralist analysis does admit the possibility of concrete changes in social structures but claims they are largely irrelevant in explaining the more virtual level.
Turning to Levi-Strauss, Giddens suggests that the notion of 'structure' here is also really a system, made up of basic units and combinations. However, it is concerned with both content and form, and this leads to some speculation about the role of the unconscious in producing the characteristic structure [of binaries, for example]. Hence Levi-Strauss's work has been called 'Kantianism with no transcendental subject'. However, the subject is only bracketed, not properly dealt with. There is a historical dimension in Levi-Strauss's work, but it is dealt with in various ways, rather than being developed -- thus myths are seen as machines for the suppression of time, and this leads to a notion of the structuring properties themselves as effectively timeless, even though they are repeatable and follow in sequences. Levi -Strauss's is really a fundamentally analytical technique, as when he analyses collections of specific myths 'spirally' to get at the underlying binary structures [see his work on kinship for a clue] . Given the cognitive emphasis, this work develops away from the practical notion of the social in classical functionalism [one source of the split with Durkheim] 'Structure' becomes a matter of patterns for both, though, and both fail to distinguish between the different levels of 'system' and 'structure'. There is a tendency for actual events to be seen merely as characteristics of some system [instead of spelling out the structuration processes in more detail -- an example of the point above about how important details and stages can be collapsed in theories like this].
By way of criticism, Levi-Strauss still leaves a gap between the collective unconscious and the actual activity, and in particular the reflexive action of the subject is bracketed, or is seen as a contingent matter only. The unconscious, the structural is still dominant, instead of offering a proper explanation of the duality of structure and system. In particular, social reproduction seems to take place without the intervention of any practical consciousness [except maybe via the occasional bricoleur?]. There is a systematic confusion between the notions of consciousness at the general level and practical consciousness, which is much more concrete, but not easily mapped onto the more general level. Practical consciousness has a particularly important role in being able to reflexively monitor action.
Further, Levi-Strauss is over-formal in his analysis. For example his work on the gift relationship or on the pattern of exchange shows the absence of a proper discussion of the inevitable time dimension to such relationships. [They are not just formally reciprocal, but actually take place over time, and the whole notion is glossed of the tactical nature of the gift, the way which giving a gift places the receiver under an obligation to respond and so on]. This over-formal system seems to avoid the need for cultural interpretation altogether -- one way of avoiding the sort of problems dealt with by hermeneutics -- but there can be no close focus on the contextuality of meaning or the sort of translation issues that seem important [such as how people understand each other, how cultural traditions influence current thinking, and how important actions such as reflexivity actually work]. As Ricoeur argues, these problems are only bracketed and not really abolished, however -- structuralism presupposes some activity such as developing meaningful narratives, or those activities necessary to interpret and repair meaning [and see Bourdieu on the importance of practice on this].
This sort of 'sociological Kantianism' leads to suitably universalistic interpretations, such as considering the structure of myths, but no corroboration is available. It is not possible to demonstrate linguistic competence among subjects, since these have been bracketed. The method of analysis -- 'spiralling' through a number of concrete examples to get to universal principles -- is not in itself sufficient to avoid problems. Thus Levi-Strauss oscillates between a commitment to relativism and a dogmatic form of interpretation, and the whole approach risks being ethnocentric [a French academic's ways of understanding -- more or less what Bourdieu says too. We know there has long been a suppressed connection between anthropology and colonialism, of course]. Finally, structuralism cannot give an account of its own origins, because the analysis stresses the synchronic rather than the diachronic dimension and lacks a proper account of the role of history [so somehow it just claims to have hit on some universal truth].
The same kind of problems haunts other structuralist positions. For example:
(a) Barthes attempts to go beyond mere analysis in his account of myth, and attempts a more critical approach using concepts such as ideology and false consciousness. However, this still runs the risk of seeing social forms as natural, and of failing to produce an adequate account of the system that produces myth in the first place.
(b) This kind of work has been carried on by Derrida and the Tel Quel Group ['left Heideggerians' according to Giddens]. This work arises from focusing on the relations between signifier and signified, rather than those between code and message as in Levi-Strauss, but the same rejection of the Subject appears (drawn from both Levi-Strauss and Heidegger). Again, however, subjectivity is merely denied here rather than explained, and the same problem arises with formal analysis instead of historically grounded analysis. According to Derrida, for example, the signified is constituted only in language, rather than having some transcendental origin (which must be either idealist or positivist for Derrida). The process of 'writing' values the spacing inherent in the notion of difference (unlike Saussure, say, where language operates negatively to establish some fixed difference). The inevitable spatial and temporal dimension opened by this stress leads to Derrida has remark that 'to differ is to defer' (Giddens, page 31). Derrida also investigates the important topic of absences, which are detectable and recoverable only via traces. However, all this (including historicity) takes place only within the text, .
For people like Kristeva (taken as a representative of the Tel Quel tendency), the speaking subject is at last restored instead of being subsumed in the social system, but it is still a radically decentred subject. Consciousness is seen as involving mental acts which can be detected through language, and actual acts are seen as interdependent upon some primordial activity. Here, the subject is indeed produced, but again in a formalistic way, via Lacan [that is through various universal stages such as the mirror phase, when the 'I' emerges only as a result of the child signifying, as Giddens puts it, and recognising the split between signifier and signified, subject and object -- see file on this].
(c) Both Derrida and the Wittgensteinians share a critique of the notion of 'presence' (a process by which real objects are somehow captured by concepts), and attempt to pursue 'deconstruction' (a process to restore that significant difference and spacing). For Wittgenstein, there is a temporal dimension implicit in the notion that meaning is created by the play of difference in use. This does at least show potential interaction between language and praxis, says Giddens, and language is ultimately dependent on the nonlinguistic, at least for the later Wittgenstein: practices become more important than any notion of the unconscious or some formal conception of 'writing'. This is an improvement on Derrida. Further, Wittgenstein is better at linking signs and referents: there is no simple correspondence available, but Wittgenstein does not advocate that we abandon the attempt as arbitrary and retreat to Idealism. Language and social practices are the key for Wittgenstein, leading to investigation of the concrete appearances of actual spacings available in language expressed in actual social practices. This provides the possibility for the recovery of meaning by examining contexts rather than just opting for formalist analysis as in Derrida. The concern to distance analysis from positivism is what has led to the obsession with the signifier. But we need to go beyond the signifier/signified distinction altogether. The early obsession with the signifier was correct, and led to the power of semiotic analysis which argued everything carries a meaning, but the signified itself was ignored. Wittgenstein is right to stress that use is crucial, and to emphasise that this it is practices which give linguistic items sense.
(d) Lacan and the notion of the 'decentred subject' inherited its distrust of subjectivity from Saussure and others. Subjectivity is constituted by signification, as we have seen. What remains of agency or the reflexive acting subject? If we take Wittgenstein's view that speech acts are integral to all social practices, we can posit a kind of acting subject, Giddens argues, which is able to reflexively monitor conduct: such reflexive monitoring is chronic in social life. Asking for intentions is not enough, since these are only isolated as intentions after reflection. We need to try and examine tacit knowledge rather than opt for some formalist notion of the unconscious and its stocks of knowledge. Of course there are such structural and unconscious constraints, but is wrong to see the acting subject and practical consciousness as simply determined by these levels.
That the text is a more important unit of analysis rather than the intentions of the authors, has been argued by both Structuralism and Phenomenology. Meanings are not fully controlled by these intentions, for example, as Derrida argues. However, it is wrong to totally reject intentional activity [as structuralists do], and equally wrong to see intentions as discrete mental events linked to the production of texts of various kinds [a reference to Ricoeur here specifically, and maybe to phenomenological hermeneutics more generally?]. Similarly, there can be no fixed rules of interpretation of texts. A text, for Giddens, is better understood as a perfect example of reflexive monitoring against a background of unacknowledged conditions and outcomes. This helps explain both texts as productions and texts as autonomous creations. It is this level of analysis that is required rather than the general structural level, and this level is really presupposed by, but not theorised in, structuralism.
Texts are produced by neither universal structures nor by individual intentions. Instead there is a process of production monitored by the author or the reader. The production process itself involves a range of 'rationalisations of action', including the effects of practical consciousness and the unconscious. The author [and reader?] is neither a mere actor nor simply a 'trace' of some structural constraints. The author's meanings do escape him [sic] and leak into the text, which is 'enmeshed in the flux of social life'. This is precisely what happens to social actions generally in processes with names such as 'objectification'. Following this sort of analysis helps us to recover the subject without ending in subjectivism. That which is not subjective is social practice [rather than some autonomous textuality], and we need to assert this against both structuralism and positivism. This approach will also help us to overcome some of the unfortunate ideological accompaniments to full-blown decentring -- such as the well-known despair in Adorno and Horkheimer, or the dangers of totalitarianism in Foucault (page 45) [Giddens has an optimism and a fundamental interest in democracy, both stemming from his insistence that actors are capable of reflexive analysis and.purposeful political activity aimed at social change].
We need to criticise and amend structuralism accordingly. Thus linguistic spacing arises not only through the formal operations of language, at the virtual level, but also through social practices as well, through concrete social space [an example of the famous attention to the spatial dimension in social life that so excites geographers]. The temporal dimension needs to be restored to enable us to give an account of the development of these processes over time, rather than just seeing time as a simple dynamic of a structure, a sequence produced by some combination of elements. A proper temporal account will rectify the absence of history and also overcomes some difficulties that structuralism has in explaining the apparent 'eternality' of its concepts, which open it at the moment to allegations that it is in fact an ideology [ as we saw].
The structurational approach also opposes radical historicism and relativism [one of the options for structuralism especially with Levi-Strauss as we saw]. It helps us improve on functionalist conceptions by insisting that societies are generated from a 'virtual' system which operates recursively: this avoids the 'collapse' mentioned above where concrete structures are seen as mere instances of [functionally-ordered] social systems which somehow dominate us [implications here for marxism too, of course -- and see below].
Structurational approaches also overcome the subject/object dualism, again without risking either subjectivism or objectivism. The relation is best thought of as a duality rather than a dualism [as the discussion on texts above indicates]. The [structuralist ] work on the decentred subject did help us break with Cartesian conceptions of 'consciousness', where [one kind of ] rational thought was seen as fundamental and transparent to itself, but we need to develop a proper account of reflexivity. Finally, structuralist approaches have led to some excellent analysis of cultural objects, but they are limited in confusing the social with the linguistic. This is done only at the expense of privileging concepts based on linguistics, such as the signifier/signified split. To properly grasp cultural objects, we need a much more specific and comprehensive theory of codes, cultural production, and social practice.
Chapter 2 Agency, Structure
This chapter begins by recognising that it is conventional in sociology to assert that 'action' is a term that is always opposed to 'structure'. Of course, the different schools have not ignored the opposing term, but they have often failed to theorise it adequately. For example, 'action' theories like those based on Wittgenstein recognise the effect of social institutions as a 'context' or 'consensual backdrop', but have not adequately theorised them. Similarly, in Mead, there are active subjects and then only 'familial figures and the "Generalised Other"' (50): this has enabled symbolic interactionism co-exist with functionalism, oddly enough, through a convenient division of labour where the former deals with micro problems and the latter with macro ones. Functionalist writers have conceived of social order as something external to individuals, but have failed to theorise it adequately -- so that Durkheim can only associate social order with constraint, and even then through an analogy with physical constraints. Parsons begins with voluntarism and introduces social properties only as norms and values, which are internalised -- this also limits the concept of action in his work. Marxism too shows a split between themes of active consciousness and deterministic theories. Althusser represents one strand, but in his determination to eliminate the subject, he is left with 'agents... [as]... structural dopes of even more stunning mediocrity' (52). Those marxists stressing the alienation of subjectivity [and Giddens refers to the relatively little known Paci as the best example] depend far too much on flawed philosophies [such as Phenomenology in this case]. Nevertheless, marxism can be used to move beyond this dualism: as Marx argues in Grundrisse, all social items, including individuals, can be seen as 'moments' in an ongoing set of relationships which they produce and reproduce endlessly.
Thus action and structure presuppose each other. Action theories lack an account of institutions, but also an account of temporality and power. As Heidegger argued, however, be-ing must involve temporality since it appears, in the dimension of time. However, Heidegger ignores structures [in the special sense Giddens uses the term, some virtual level which expresses the endless possibilities that instantiate themselves -- see below]. Time should never be understood as a sequence of 'instants' but always as a mixture between the past and the future [see the notion of 'continuity' developed in chapter 6 below]. The usual way of talking about processes in time involve abstractions -- discrete 'instants', isolated sequences of motives or actions -- and these abstractions arise only by post hoc reflection. Instead, action is best seen as a 'continuous flow of conduct', a 'stream of actual or contemplated causal interventions of corporeal beings in the ongoing process of events-in-the-world' (55).
Such a view involves a theory of the self rather than of acts. It involves recognising the centrality of praxis, an necessary recognition of agency and that historical events could have been otherwise. Regularised acts are better seen as 'situated practices'.
Action itself is stratified. It has unacknowledged conditions, unanticipated consequences, and the capacity to undertake reflexive monitoring of action. The famous diagram, a version of which appears on page 56 of this volume and is also reproduced in my own book (Teach Yourself Social Theory) , illustrates the full dimensions. For example: there is no need to assume that human beings must have full consciousness of their goals to act intentionally; human beings can give an account of action, but mostly they work with 'practical consciousness: tacit knowledge that is skilfully applied in the enactment of courses of conduct, but which the actor is not able to formulate discursively' (57); it is possible to reflexively monitor not just the behaviour of actors but the setting of interaction, as Garfinkel shows [see file for an example]; people can rationalise about their action both by dissimulating both deliberately and in the Freudian sense; there must be an unconscious level and it is wrong to celebrate the conscious and rational alone, although the unconscious must not be seen as fully determining action. The usual theories of action ignore important elements, and especially miss the role of unconscious motives and unintended consequences [functionalism tries to analyse these, but does so inadequately, as Chapter 6 explains].
The discussion of the differences between structure and system has been dealt with already in Chapter 1. Functionalism looks as if it is going to distinguish the two levels, when it discusses the differences between structure and function, but tends to define structure as a mere snapshot of a functioning system. The distinction between syntagm [a time-space pattern] and paradigm [a virtual system] is more useful, but, in the hands of Levi-Strauss there are still difficulties: (a) Levi-Strauss still conceives of the virtual structure as a realist one; (b) there is no process of structuration in Levi-Strauss -- the patterns that result do so as the effect of a combinatory operated by the unconscious, and not from some discursive and practical process; (c) the notion of structure consists of both elements and rules. For Giddens, it is both sets of rules and resources that reproduce structures, which themselves are best seen as sets of rule/resource properties; (d) there is not enough emphasis on the general power of praxis to transform social life; (e) power is presupposed if structures are instantiated, but should be analysed and seen as integral to action.
[Giddens's ideas seem pretty vague here too. Virtual orders do not provide a model as such but arise from: '(a) knowledge of how things are done by social actors, (b) social practices as the recursive mobilisation of such knowledge, (c) capabilities presupposed by such practices' (64). This seems to me a mixture of empirical observation and some curious formal analysis of the presupposed conditions for social practices -- compare this with Habermas's notion of quasi - transcendental human interests].
For Giddens, systems are the actualised patterns over time and space, organised as a structured totality, while structures are revealed in a deeper layer, as 'practices constitutive of social systems'. We should also note that the rules referred to above are not like the rules of chess, where one prescribed rule maps to one activity. Rules and practices are interwoven, and practice takes place typically in the absence of a lexicon. A diagram on page 66 summarises this discussion, defining the properties of the social system (rules and resources) as its structure, regular practices become the system, and structuration refers to the conditions that lead to the transformation or continuity of structures and therefore to the reproduction of systems. There is no subject at the structural level. Structural properties are both the medium and outcome of the practices of the system.
It follows that rules are both constitutive and regulative (that is sanctioned). Practice is required as well as some lexicon to follow: rules both generate and mediate practices, rather than acting as a generalisation or as a fixed regularity. Practice, after all, has an unconscious and tacit aspect as well. Wittgenstein 's concept of a language game captures this, as does Garfinkel's work on the creative aspects of ordinary language and its contextual elements. Power is always involved as well: it is not just something that has to be invoked where there are no rational norms, as in Weber or Nietzsche, and not just a matter of force as in functionalism. It is a property of both individuals and the collectivity. Scarce resources act as vehicles of power which lead to structures of domination.
Turning now to structuration specifically, it is clear that this arises from a deep duality, from the mutual dependency of structure and agency. Structure constitutes both the personality and society, although never perfectly, given unintended consequences. The concept spans any attempt to divide the synchronic from the diachronic, or static analysis from dynamic. Structures are not just constraining but enabling, so that even social change is structurated. The old divisions between determinism and voluntarism can also be abandoned -- the past has an effect on action but in the form of rules and resources, while at the more general level, the virtual constitutes the actual rather as whole languages are linked to specific utterances. Structure does not work 'behind the backs' of actors, as advocates of dominant ideology believe. Actors are far more knowledgeable than that, and there is always some degree of 'penetration' of ideology [a specific reference to Willis here, page 72]. This sort of knowledge is not discursive, theoretical or abstract, but is localised and limited, since actor knowledge is not aware of unintended consequences.
Social systems are actual and objective. For Giddens, the concept points to the interdependence among actors, as studied by systems theory particularly. There are also two other common senses in which this term is used, the conceptual and the technical. The technical definition sometimes leads to reductionism, since system feedback is not the same as reflexive monitoring, and system continuity not the same as recursiveness [there is an interesting detailed discussion of the limits of systems thinking pages 74-5].
System integration refers to the regularised ties between and the reciprocity of practices, and does not necessarily imply some consensus or higher-level cohesion. System integration refers to the connections between collectivities, and social integration to those between actors. Face-to-face interaction is especially important for the latter, and, incidentally, it shows the significance of space and presence in social relations [the discussion draws a great deal from Schutz here]. Both forms of integration are required in the reproduction of institutions, as you would expect from the general insistence on duality. The homeostatic causal loops emphasised in functionalism are only one form affecting system integration -- another one arises as self regulation through feedback, which may be selective and directional. Reflexive self regulation offers another possibility, and this takes the form of modern politics such as legal rational politics or social movements. It is important that we do not reduce this to some purposive rational steering mechanism as in Habermas.
Institutions endure over time and spread out through space. It is possible to analyse institutions themselves or the strategic conduct of actors -- both are heuristics. If we analyse strategic conduct, we might see institutions as offering properties which help individuals mobilise, or we might see these properties as characteristics of social systems. Both are required of course. [This is Giddens's way of abolishing the micro/macro split in sociology as well]. We might compare Durkheim and Goffman as opting for different possibilities in their analyses of suicide, for example. The institutional level tends to be neglected by action theorists in particular.
There are different modalities of structuration, providing stocks of knowledge for actors, say, and resources or institutional features for institutions. A diagram on page 82 sketches out some possibilities more systematically. The point is that all the dimensions are involved in interactions, although sociologists typically choose particular levels at which to operate. Power is always involved too, since some actors can make their meanings count by imposing sanctions. The notion of 'context' is often used loosely, but it is integral to action for Giddens, and its influence can be exposed by reflexive monitoring. Garfinkel's work on 'indexicality' shows that is impossible to leave out context when analysing actions (84). The point here is to oppose those theories of meaning which privilege author's intentions alone -- these ignore the other dimensions, and ignore duality.
Chapter 6 Time, Space, Social Change
The basic argument is that neither time nor space is adequately theorised in conventional sociology (and the main targets here are functionalism and structuralism again). This is seen again in the case of Levi-Strauss who has a tendency to suppress the time dimension in favour of synchronic analysis: in his discussion of the differences between pre-industrial and industrial societies, he comes close to admitting that there is a definite directional notion of time in the latter but not in the former. Otherwise, the time dimension is usually seen as something required to explain social change but not stability or continuity as well (although, as Giddens points out, the very concept of 'stability' implies a process that takes place over time). The best discussions of the importance of time are seen in ethnomethodological work on the importance of sequences, say in a series of conversational turns (see file): here, meaning only unfolds over time, and co-operation between two speakers requires them to be together for a sequence of time. [There is also the argument that the role of narrative in myth is an implicit process involving time, as we saw in the first chapter]. Finally, there is work suggesting that the importance of clock time has been underestimated -- not only is it crucial in the organisation of complex industrial processes, but it can be seen as one of the first examples of rationalisation, and Marx himself acknowledges its political importance as in struggles over the length of the working day.
Space is also an important dimension in its own right. Geographical space is often seen as a kind of context for social interaction only, and Sociology fought an early battle to avoid geographical determinism. However, it plays a full part in shaping social interaction. For example:
(a) There is an important difference between face-to-face forms of communication and those that take place at a distance. For one thing, much more information is available in face-to-face forms. Derrida was right to stress the importance of writing, and makes writing central to his whole analysis of the management of difference and deferring in communication. However, writing also has important hermeneutic consequences as well -- it enables some kind of understanding to be developed of those remote from us, but he also introduces an necessary ambiguity, and mediation, an alteration of meaning as writing 'escapes' from its original author. [These and other remarks have been the basis of some very interesting work on the implication of Giddens's approach for distance education, best developed in the work of Evans and Nation -- eg Evans T and Nation D in Evans T and Nation D (eds) (1989) Critical Reflections on Distance Education, London: Falmer Press].
(b) A spatial dimension plays an important part wherever sociological variables are localised or regionalised. For example, the social classes are concentrated in different regions in Britain. The nation state provides another example -- here, following globalisation, economic functions have been dispersed beyond the boundaries of nation-states, although political functions remain relatively concentrated. On a global scale, there has been a new kind of political regionalism, between the 'West' and the rest, for example. This discussion also contains hints of an emerging and important role of military power in social change and stability [still largely ignored in much conventional sociology -- Giddens says this is because much is still based on the peculiar development of advanced societies in the West, where economic forces drove social change primarily]. The role of military blocs in global politics is clear, however. Later, military conflict is added to the important factors affecting social change and stability -- it is not just increasing complexity, or emerging trading contacts with other societies that weakens traditional forms of solidarity, as in conventional functionalist accounts.
These considerations enable a number of powerful criticisms to be developed. For example, the whole division between static and dynamic analysis ignores the fact that time is integral to social order and not a mere external factor. For that matter, social changes arise in ways which show there is no easy classification into internal and external dimensions anyway. The key feature of social life is continutity.
A number of useful criticisms of functionalism in particular arise. One of functionalism his main claims is to be able to explain effects which are known to and unintended by the individual actors, such as the 'latent functions' of religious ceremonies, which are to reinforce social solidarity in the classic analyses [Giddens is actually referring to Merton here]. Giddens argues that we have no reason to see these unintended consequences as driven by some level of functional social activity, whose purposes are known only to 'society'. Turning specifically to the Merton example of religious ceremonies, Giddens suggests that such ceremonies only work well to reinforce social solidarity when at least some of the participants are aware of this effect! Thus functions only have an important social role when they become known or 'manifest' to at least some of the actors [this seems to me to come close to a notion that all social life is really political activity]. Merton had it backwards, so to speak!
Giddens says his position is close here to Bourdieu's notion of practice [see file] -- and at least this conception helps us to realise that people who live in pre-industrial societies are not cultural dopes: is it conceivable that high priests of the ritual could have failed to notice the increase in social solidarity that regularly accompanied such rituals?
These considerations also lead on to Giddens's own view of the emergence and characteristics of Modernity. It is not just a matter of increased functional differentiation, nor of an increasing disenchantment with the world [see later discussion] . Tradition loses its hold in stages, involving the coming to consciousness of social actors [including escaping from the dogmatic hold of tradition, first by realising there are other equally compelling traditions, and secondly by realising that traditions only represent congealed forms of human activity]. Modernity is a matter of such self consciousness, an awareness of the essential ongoing continuity of social life, including its dimensions in time and space. This leads to an ability to see possibilities and marshal them in order to introduce social change. Industrial capitalism is the most institutionalised form of such self consciousness, but it is a widespread occurrence, and not just confined to elite groups .