I think that many of these theories have elements of both structure and
agency.  Marxism, for example, is dialectical--which means that this
issue is central to it, and action is therefore a key part of it.  In
Parsons' structural/functionalism, likewise, the question of action and
agency is both structured and independent.  Nor do most forms of
intrepretative, constructionist, etc. theory disregard social structure.

In my analyses of drug injectors within network structures (I can send
citations, but Social Networks, Drug Injectors' Lives,  and HIV/AIDS.
Friedman SR, Curtis R, Neaigus A, Jose B, Des Jarlais DC. 1999.  New
York: Kluwer/Plenum. has some of it), I have paid a lot of attention to
the kinds of agency they have, but also at how this is partially


Sam Friedman
National Development and Research Institutes
71 West 23d Street
New York, NY 10010
1 212 845 4467
Fax 1 917 438 0894
[log in to unmask]

>>> Hyo Kim <[log in to unmask]> 09/10/02 01:29PM >>>
Hello Doug -

I know that there are experts around here... But, if I am allowed to
join the discussion (with a great respect of others) ...

There have been two schools of thought (not explicit) in social science
fields -- structuralist/functionalists point of view vs.
interpretitivism view point. While the name is not important (I am
borrowing these names from Giddens), the first tend to focus on the
"insititutioanl power" on individuals (Positivism, Functionalism, Open
system theorists, Marxism, etc.) believing that institutions tend to
have "its own power (sui-generis)" on individuals or there is a
universal law governing individuals' action. The problem of this kind of
thought is that there is little room for individuals ability "to do

The second thought focuses more on this problematic side; and the word,
"agent" or "agency" refers to individuals' such an ability to do
otherwise (Interpretitivism, Ethnomethodology, Social constructionism,

Regarding this place, "SOCNET", which focuses on network analysis; it
is my understanding that social network analyses is more on the side of
structuralist view point. And the authors in the previous seem to post
address the issue. Also, Granovetter has dealt with this issue in depth
(using the term, "problem of action"). His works are:

Granovetter, M. S. (1985). Economic action and social structure: A
Theory of embeddedness. American Journal of Sociology, 91, 481-510.

Granovetter, M. S. (1992). Problems of explanation in economic
sociology. In N. Nohria & R. G. REccles (Eds.), Networks and
organizations. Boston, MA: Harvard business school press.

Granovetter, M. S., & Swedberg, R. (1992). The Sociology of economic
life. Boulder: Westview Press.

Lastly please forgive me if I am wrong; I am still learning...

Best respects,


-----Original Message-----
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On
Behalf Of Doug Bryan
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2002 12:26 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Network analysis vs structural analysis

Could someone briefly sketch "the problem of agency"?  I'm a computer
scientist so I suspect the meaning I'm familiar with isn't the one

Doug Bryan
[log in to unmask]

----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Southwick" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2002 10:09 AM
Subject: Re: Network analysis vs structural analysis

> If I could just add: the "real" issue underlying the
> quantitative/qualitative discussion is whether or how SNA addresses
> as well as structure.
> If your not familiar, Emirbayer and Goodwin address this:
> Emirbayer, Mustafa & Goodwin, Jeff. (1994). Network analysis,
culture, and
> the problem of agency. American Journal of Sociology, 99(6),
> -- Richard Southwick
>    Syracuse University - School of Information Studies
>    email:   [log in to unmask]
>    webite:
> On Tue, 10 Sep 2002, Harrington, Marcia wrote:
> > just when i thought i had it all figured out...
> > can someone plz explain to me the differences
> > between network analysis and structural analysis.
> >
> > btw, i know that i still owe two of you responses
> > from previous assistance. i will get with u, soon
> > as i get a few free minutes.
> >
> > thank you.
> > - marcia harrington
> > virginia tech
> >