Essay on Structure And Agency : Social Theory

1360 Words May 12th, 2015 6 Pages
Structure and agency are main concepts in social theory. Structure refers to the general features of social life that happen regularly and do not change. Structure also refers to social institutions or systems, social facts that are independent of the individual and are able to determine and restrict individual action. Agency refers to action; usually the action of individuals or groups. Agency also refers to the thought that individuals are capable of choosing different courses of action. Individuals can choose what to do, though their choices are restricted and shaped in various ways by structural realities (Harrington, 2005). Anthony Giddens structuration theory had many critisisms from Bhaskar and Callinicos, which will be looked at throughout this essay.

The structure agency debate is a debate about how the thoughts and actions of individuals and organisations together encompass rules, norms, habits, and processes that serve to govern those very agents. It looks at if individuals can act on their own accord making their own choices or if they are controlled by structure (Castree, Kitchin and Rogers, 2013).

Structuration theory is a response to the faults of Talcott Parsons structural functionalism. According to Giddens, the social system could only operate through the familiar activity of individuals. Giddens wanted to produce a theory that avoided degrading the lay actor a theory that did not neglect the everyday capabilities of individuals. Giddens said that…

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