The role of infrastructure in transregional ventures

Authored by: Roland Wenzlhuemer

The Routledge Handbook of Transregional Studies

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138718364
eBook ISBN: 9780429438233
Adobe ISBN:


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Our attempts to understand and explain social phenomena, that is to say phenomena emerging from the coexistence of and interaction between human beings, necessitate us to think about the formative role of both human actors and social structures. The most insightful are all those approaches that try to bridge the gap between the two by looking at their relation and interplay. Anthony Giddens’ theory of structuration (1984) is one of several attempts to understand and explain the degree of agency that humans have in the light of the collective actions of others; these actions are stored in and represented by different forms of structures (reference could also be made to Archer 1982 or Bourdieu 1977, 1984). Central to Giddens’ theory is the idea of the duality of structure, the notion that ‘the structural properties of social systems are both medium and outcome of the practices they recursively organize’ (Giddens 1984: 25). Simply put, this means that individuals, through their actions, reproduce social structures that in turn guide and influence individual actions. A good grasp of the relation between agency and structure also plays an important role in transregional approaches. Transregional studies and their neighbouring fields are interested in both the emergence and the sociocultural significance of transregional or global connections (Wenzlhuemer 2016: 163–6). Larger guiding questions are how actors create such connections and how these successively influence human thoughts, feelings, and actions. In this context, transregional connections can be conceptualized as particular forms of social structures. The frequent use of metaphors such as entanglement, interwovenness, or network, which all exhibit a distinct structural quality, also point to this structural aspect. Understood in this way, transregional studies seek to understand and explain the relation between these structures and the actors embedded in them.

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