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Critical Realism by Alan Norrie, Tony Lawson, Andrew Collier, Roy Bhaskar, Margaret Archer

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13

FOUR CONCEPTS OF SOCIAL STRUCTURE

Douglas V Porpora

Social structure is one of the most central concepts in sociology. Yet there is wide disagreement about what it means. This disagreement is consequential because differences in the way sociologists conceptualize social structure lead to very different approaches to sociology. The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, because there is so much dispute about what social structure means or should mean, in the first part of this paper I will simply present without argument four different conceptions of social structure that are prominent in the field. Although the alternative conceptions I will examine are not necessarily exhaustive, they do represent what are probably the most commonly held ...

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