Explain structuration - utilized by Anthony Giddens in his structuration theory and his views on Globalization. 

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Giddens describes the structuration of social life as a "recursive ordering of social practices." (In his article "Elements of the Theory of Structuration") He describes human individuals as actors. And while a subjective person has agency, intention, or purpose, Giddens warns that this doesn't mean the person is over and above history and life itself. In other words, a person is not outside of time and space, looking down on history and only then acting with purpose. Likewise, social structure is not out there somewhere. Rather, the person is in social life, in the play, as an actor and is therefore taking part in making, and becoming a part of, social practices. 

As people, individually and communally, continue to practice certain things (relationships, economies, politics, etc.) people watch each other repeating these "recursive" (self-repeating) practices. These practices are "reflexive" meaning that we watch others and others watch us. Repeated practices are a structuration, ongoing. 

An individual is motivated to do something, she rationalizes why and how it should be done, she monitors herself and others, and in the end there may be factors contributing to her action of which she is unaware. 

In other words, we are somewhat influenced by unconscious motives (Giddens invokes Freud here). We are motivated by practical concerns which are daily and routine and which we forget about or might take for granted. Our discursive consciousness concerns our reasons for what we do, although these may not always be consistent with agents' actual motives. In short, there are a number of factors that influence behavior. We are agents but always already affected by the recursive practices and underlying motivations of our community and our psyches. Just as there are hidden motivations, there can be unintended consequences of our actions. Those consequences are seen and become part of the ongoing social life of a community: which is watched reflexively. 

Repeated practices in a community, with unintended motivations and consequences or not, are the structuring events that become social structure. Given that Giddens uses the word structuration, he means that social structure is continually being made, recreated. It is not a functionalist structure, one which is outside or external to human action. Giddens' theory of structuration is more similar to structuralist and post-structuralist notions of social structure being based on human interaction; thus the social structure is grounded in actual space and time. Social practices are only repeated because a community remembers, reflexively, and repeats them as they suit their motivations and rationalizations. And along post-structuralist thought, social practices are always being made. This is like saying that every social act is like a skyscraper. Each has to be made/built to occur: to exist. There is a memory, some abstract structure/blueprint of how to build the skyscraper but that blueprint does not exist as an absolute law or as an enduring object. It is simply the memory of a previous skyscraper; just as a repeated social act is based on a previous social act. 

In short, structure is an ongoing series of events; it is what we do.

The advent of globalization changes the game. Prior to globalization, social agents and structures were largely determined locally and nationally. In the age of the internet and global interaction, the structuration process opened those local, national, ethnic, etc. groups to other influences and interactions. This has pros and cons of course, a con perhaps being the homogenization of identity via Hollywood character types, a pro being social awareness of what's going on across the globe - and this might lead to action and activism.