‘The first and perhaps most compelling attribute of the modern social structure which we inhabit’, according to James Coleman, ‘is the asymmetry of a large portion of its relations’. What is striking about modern society, however, is not the asymmetry of relations as such. Western societies have often been, and to some extent still are, highly asymmetric; think, for example, of the relations between feudal lords and their serfs, between factory owners and workers, between men and women. What is striking about the modern asymmetry is that the parties involved are completely different classes of entities, natural persons and complex organizations. Our (great) grandparents had to rely for their income, housing and the supply of goods and services mostly on independent employers, landlords, shopkeepers and artisans. We, on the other hand, are dealing with corporations, welfare institutions, public services, housing associations, building societies, banks and department stores. These organizations are not just rational, person-like servants, waiting quietly in the corners of society to be called upon. They also, and predominantly, act on their own account. Complex organizations are a new and powerful breed of social actors; they are corporate actors alongside the traditional, human actors.