This edited collection of papers seeks to celebrate the scope and accomplishment of Margaret Archer’s work, distilling her theoretical and empirical contributions into four sections, capturing the essence and trajectory of her work over almost four decades. Long fascinated with the problem of structure and agency, Archer’s work has constituted a decades long engagement with this perennial issue of social thought. Through an initial empirical study and two expansive trilogies, Archer has developed an explanatory framework that comes to grips with the complexity of social processes at different levels of analysis over time. The Morphogenetic Approach and, later, her work on the Internal Conversation, together, provide a detailed account of the interrelated processes by which structure, agency and culture come to take the forms they do.
However in spite of the deep interconnections which unify her body of work, it is rarely treated as a coherent whole. Though its range and depth has been widely acknowledged, it nonetheless has an unclear place within the cannon of sociological theory. The proposed collection seeks to address this relative neglect through collating a selection of papers, spanning Archer’s career, which collectively elucidate both the development of her thought and the value which can be found in it as a systematic whole. It seeks to illustrate the empirical origins of her later ideas in her early work on the sociology of education, as well as foregrounding the diverse range of influences which have conditioned her intellectual trajectory: the systems theory of Walter Buckley, the functionalist Marxism of David Lockwood, the critical realist philosophy of Roy Bhaskar and, more recently, her engagement with American pragmatism and the Italian school of relational sociology.