From Structure to Anti Structure and Agency

"there has been a rapidly growing conviction that the individual does not need the structures and institutions of modernity to legitimize one’s self. The reasons for this are complex, but sources of the shift are the emergence of the technological and the information age. These dual movements of late modernity have required an increasingly educated population in which growing numbers recognize they don’t need to be committed to structures and institutions in order to thrive.

The shift from structure to agency

In late modernity, structures not only lose their legitimacy, but there is a shift to the primacy of agency. This is the continuing reshaping of modernity’s own inner dynamic. The self is the measure of all things. Structures (organizations) are but means for individuals to fulfill their identities. [2] The shift frees agency from structure (structure shifts its location and modalities—from corporatist organizational structures of the 20th century denominations and schools with their extractionist, top-down, hierarchies and powers of knowledge) to the autonomous agents shaped by amorphous encounters in information and communication structures. Hence the Blog becomes a primary mode, symbol and analog for the social formations of a changing situation.

...there is also an unhealthy side. Others set up the either/or side of this polarity. When one hears leaders who are listening to many in the emergent movement talk about the either/or of the institutional – vs.- the organic church or the structured –vs. – the emergent church...

We are grateful to emergent leaders who rang the bell on the illegitimacy of the structural forms of church in the late 20th century. We are grateful for those same leaders who recognize we need structures that provide agents with appropriate ways of being formed in accountable structures. The way forward is in seeking together how Christian agents are formed within structures that shape the church as the polis of God in our time."


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