chapter  3
62 Pages

Subjects, actors and agents

In the foregoing chapter, I have sought to lay down the foundations or ‘basic premises’ of a

theory of social interaction consistent with social realism and critical materialism. My basic

argument there is that sociology requires a strong explanatory concept of both human nature

and the non-social self, if it is to avoid an amoral and apolitical indifference to human

problems and social struggles, and if it is to obtain an explanatory purchase on society and

history. Now my contention is that upon these ‘micro-foundations’ of society arises an

‘interaction order’, which is conditioned simultaneously by those anterior structural relations

which constrain and enable the social conduct and consciousness of interactants, and by those

natural properties and powers pertaining to individuals (as subjects and organisms) which

enable them to function as agents of social order and/or social change. The purpose of this

chapter is to conceptualise the constitution of this ‘interaction order’, and to understand its

relationship to the structural properties of social systems and the psycho-organic and subjective

capacities of individuals.