The Collective Unconscious – An Insight into the Structure versus Agency Debate

Working Paper 2021:6
Publication Year : 2021

The structure versus agency debate has since long been under discussion in sociological theory and has also existed in organisational sociology for several decades. This research presents a brief analysis of the major extant work attempting to reconcile this dialectic. After an analysis of the works of Archer, Giddens, and Bourdieu, this paper uses the arguments presented in the works of Giddens and Bourdieu in acknowledgment of the importance of the unconscious mind in the context of this debate. In an attempt to present an understanding of the unconscious in the structure versus agency dialectic, this paper critiques the work of Akram (2012) and argues in favour of the use of collective unconscious instead of the personal unconscious in understanding this debate. Jung’s collective unconscious is conceptualised as the portion of the unconscious mind that has not existed in an individual’s personal conscious and thus is a better understanding of structure than the personal unconscious of Freud, which is more biologically than socially determined. The implications of this theoretical proposition are discussed in terms of organisational discourse. A further unpacking of the unconscious in the form of intuitional mechanisms is recommended.