Toward a General Theory of Strategic Action Fields


  • Address correspondence to: Neil Fligstein, Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720. Tel.: 510-642-6567. E-mail: We would like to thank the reviewers of the article for insightful and useful comments.


In recent years there has been an outpouring of work at the intersection of social movement studies and organizational theory. While we are generally in sympathy with this work, we think it implies a far more radical rethinking of structure and agency in modern society than has been realized to date. In this article, we offer a brief sketch of a general theory of strategic action fields (SAFs). We begin with a discussion of the main elements of the theory, describe the broader environment in which any SAF is embedded, consider the dynamics of stability and change in SAFs, and end with a respectful critique of other contemporary perspectives on social structure and agency.