Footnote 2021-07-15 on duality of structure

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Julian Barg

Just read Hirsch and Lounsbury (1997) with their helpful take on new institutionalism, old institutionalism, and the structuralism of Giddens and Bourdieu. I guess this year marks half a century of unresolved conflict over structure and action.

The takeaway for me: build the model of a structure, but show how this structure is realized through–and only through!–action. I will gladly do that, and I agree that this represents a pathway to integrate institutions and older models of politics and power.

Is there a tautology though in the potential findings? An institution exists when it is enacted by actors through social action. It ceases to exist when it stops being enacted by actors. That observation seems not to be very profound. The statement becomes a little less tautological when one includes the observation that others acting against the institution have a play in changing institutions. But that again just boils down to deterring others from enacting an institution?

Hirsch, Paul M., and Michael Lounsbury. 1997. “Putting the Organization Back into Organization Theory: Action, Change, and the "New" Institutionalism.” Journal of Management Inquiry 6 (1): 79–88.



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BibTeX citation

  author = {Barg, Julian},
  title = {Julian Barg: Footnote 2021-07-15 on duality of structure},
  url = {},
  year = {2021}