The Agency-Structure Relationship

Submit a 2000 words paper on the topic Critical on the Agency-Structure Relationship. In this respect, there is a central debate in sociology over the primacy of human behavior. the options being structure or agency. Agency is the ability of individuals, who are the basic units of a society, to make decisions and act in accordance with those decisions. On the other hand, structure defines accepted routines in society that dictate how things should be done, effectively limiting the choices and opportunities available for an individual during decision-making. The structure against agency debate is an issue of socialization against an autonomy where an individual chooses either to act in such a way that promotes social ties or in such a way as to fully express their individuality (Layder, 2005).Antony Giddens postulated the structuration theory as an alternative to other widely used theories of sociology that emphasized on agent and structure determinism. These theories include social system dichotomies like subjective-objective, agency-structure, and micro-macro perspectives that give the impression that society is made up of extremes, which are always going against each other to maintain balance. Structuration does not view society in terms of agency or structure but takes a more holistic approach, preferring to consider the practices that hold society together as opposed to society components that do the actions. This way, structuration aims at balancing society and the individual: a concept known as structural dualism, actions result in the social structure and social structure makes these actions possible. By so doing, Giddens proposed that structure and action are dependent on each other and none can exist alone (Baert and Carreira, 2010).The structuration theory has five basic assumptions that Giddens made when giving the postulates for his theory. First, the theory assumes that social activity is not a sum of individual actions and cannot be explained from a totality perspective either. The second assumption states that structure is a sum of all repetitive acts of individual agents. Third, Giddens assumed that social structures are temporary and can always be violated by any agent. The fourth assumption is that social structures are a limiting factor to the actions of individuals within society. Finally, from all the other assumptions, the theory concludes that the result of the constraint between structure and action is a positive evolution. These assumptions may not have been in Giddens’ mind when he proposed the theory of structuration. However, they do go well with his views and perspective on life, especially as regards the concept of structural dualism (Finlay and Gough, 2003).

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