This book completes Margaret Archer's trilogy investigating the role of reflexivity in mediating between structure and agency. What do young people want from life? Using analysis of family experiences and life histories, her argument respects the properties and powers of both structures and agents and presents the 'internal conversation' as the site of their interplay. In unpacking what 'social conditioning' means, Archer demonstrates the usefulness of 'relational realism'. She advances a new theory of relational socialisation, appropriate to the 'mixed messages' conveyed in families that are rarely normatively consensual and thus cannot provide clear guidelines for action. Life-histories are analysed to explain the making and breaking of the various modes of reflexivity. Different modalities have been dominant from early societies to the present and the author argues that modernity is slowly ceding place to a 'morphogenetic society' as meta-reflexivity now begins to predominate, at least amongst educated young people.
Margaret S. Archer is Professor in Social Theory at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and Directrice of its Centre d'Ontologie Sociale. She was Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick from 1979 until 2010. She has written over twenty books including Making Our Way through the World: Human Reflexivity and Social Mobility (2007), Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation (2003) and Being Human: The Problem of Agency (2000).
Introduction; 1. A brief history of how reflexivity becomes imperative; 2. The reflexive imperative versus habits and habitus; 3. Re-conceptualizing socialization as 'relational reflexivity'; 4. Communicative reflexivity and its decline; 5. Autonomous reflexivity: the new spirit of social enterprise; 6. Meta-reflexives: critics of market and state; 7. Fractured reflexives: casualties of the reflexive imperative; Conclusion; Methodological appendix.