- The gross structure of a material or tissue as visible to the
unaided eye or at very low levels of magnification.
- (metalurgy) The gross structure of a pure metal or alloy, as
revealed by magnifications of 10X or less.
The notion of macrostructure has been used in
several disciplines in order to distinguish large-scale, or
'global' structures, from small-scale, or 'local' structures, that
The distinction between macrostructure and
microstructure is relative to the perspective, aims or level of
description: Macrostructures may again be seen as microstructures
at a higher level of description, that is, in relation to even
larger-scale macrostructures. For instance, the rooms of a house
are microstructures relative to the overall, macrostructure of the
house. But the house may again be a microstructure relative to the
macrostructure of a neighborhood or a city, and so on. These
differences of the level of description are also called differences
is the case for photographs, fine-grained descriptions show more
detail than coarse-grained ones.
often simply called 'structure', correspond to the overall
organization of society
described at a rather large-scale level, featuring for instance
and their respective properties and relations. In this case,
societal macrostructures are distinguished from societal
microstructures consisting of the situated social
of social actors, often described in terms of
distinction in sociology has given rise to the well-known
macro-micro debate, in which microsociologists claim the primacy of
interaction as the constituents of societal structures, and
macrosociologists the primacy of given social structure as a
general constraint on interaction.
semantic macrostructures are the overall, global
meanings of discourse, usually also described in terms of topic,
gist, or upshot. These semantic macrostructures (global meanings or
topics) are typically expressed in for instance the headlines and
lead of a news report, or the title and the abstract of a scholarly
article. Macrostructures of discourse are distinguished from its
microstructures, that is, the local structures of words, clauses,
sentences or turns in conversation. Macrostructures may be derived
from microstructures by operations such as abstracting, that is,
leaving out or summarizing specific details. Semantic
macrostructures or topics define what is called the global coherence
In the psychology
processing, it is assumed that language users typically have better
memory for the macrostructures than for the microstructures of
discourse: After some time we remember the overall topics or gist
of a news report much better than its many details.
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(1986). The constitution of society: Outline of the
theory of structuration. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Jones, B., Gallagher, B. J., & McFalls, J. A. (1995).
Sociology. Micro, macro, and mega structures. Ft. Worth, TX:
Harcourt Brace. Knorr-Cetina, K., & Cicourel, A. V. (Eds.).
(1981). Advances in social theory and methodology. Towards an
integration of micro- and macrosociologies. London: Routledge &
Kegan Paul. Tepperman, L., & Rosenberg, M. M. (1998).
Macro/micro: A brief introduction to sociology. Scarborough, Ont.:
Prentice-Hall Canada. Teun A.
(1980). Macrostructures: An interdisciplinary study of
global structures in discourse, interaction, and cognition.
Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.