This paper outlines and evaluates recent contributions by Nicos Mouzelis and Margaret Archer to the structure–agency debate. Mouzelis offers an internal reconstruction of Giddens’s structuration theory; Archer an external alternative. I show that, although representing an advance on Giddens’s position, Mouzelis’s account fails because he relies on the former’s definition of structure as comprising rules and resources. I then examine Archer’s solution to the problem. I argue that her definition of activity-dependence makes her account of the relationship between agents and structures unclear. I outline an alternative account in terms of supervenience, and argue that it contains the minimum ontological claim necessary for a realist understanding of the structure–agent relationship.

Keyword: cultural norm, modernization, secularization