How Agency Is Transformed in the Course of Social Transformation: Don’t Forget the Double Morphogenesis

  • Margaret S. ArcherEmail author
Part of the Social Morphogenesis book series (SOCMOR)


In Volume II, I advanced the generative mechanism of late modernity as constituted by neo-capitalist market competition and the diffusion of digital science needing to work together, and resulting in intensified social morphogenesis. Digital scientists were concerned with the diffusion of their innovations and the economic vanguard with their own profitability. Their synergy pulled social morphogenesis in two different directions: a reinforcement of (win-lose) competition on the part of the economy and the promotion of new (win-win) opportunities (the Cyber-Commons) on the part of digital innovators. This explanation is more complex than empiricist accounts of the ‘rise of information society’.

Major changes in the social order simultaneously have repercussions upon agency through being differentially beneficial or prejudicial to existing social groups. This prompts their re-organization, regrouping some and de-grouping others, into new Corporate and Primary Agents through the concurrent ‘double morphogenesis’. This chapter examines the two processes together, showing that as the generative mechanism engages, Corporate Agency, in its attempt to sustain or transform the social system, is ineluctably drawn into sustaining or transforming the categories of Corporate and Primary Agents themselves. It is their interactions that explain why globally the T2–T3 phase is prolonged and their outcomes will be decisive for whether or not T4 is eventually reached and merits being called a Morphogenic society.


Synergy Double morphogenesis Agential transformation Intellectual property Digital diffusion Cyber commons 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Social Ontology, Department of SociologyUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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