The Structure vs. Agency Debate
A discussion on why the structure-agency problem is important for social scientists and an evaluation of the attempts made to 'resolve' the issue.
# 94960 | 1,956 words | 10 sources | MLA | 2006 |
Published on May 13, 2007 in Political Science (Political Theory) , Sociology (Theory) , Psychology (Theory)
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This paper examines how the structure vs. agency debate is one of the most highly contentious dualisms within the social sciences. By providing an evaluation of the theories surrounding the debate and an overview of the nature of it, the paper seeks to explain the basis of the argument and the predominant schools of thought on the subject. Theoretically the paper concentrates on the monocausal theories of structuralism and intentionalism and the dialectical theories of structuration and the strategic-relational approach.
From the Paper:"The structure-agency debate has existed in one form or another for 'decades indeed arguably centuries' (McAnulla. 1999. p1) and has been based around philosophical questions and other similar dualisms. It seeks to address the extent to which individuals control their lives through their own actions in order to reach their goals, compared to how actors' lives are structurally controlled by external forces. Therefore, structure can be seen as the social and physical environment (context) in which individual actors inhabit, and which limits, causes or allows directly or indirectly our actions within. On the other hand, agency refers to an individual's ability to make changes or control their social and physical environment in order to reach their goals. "
Sample of Sources Used:
- Giddens, A. (1979). Central Problems in Social Theory. Macmillan. London
- Gooden, R.E. (1993). Utility and the Good. In: Singer, P., ed. A Companion to Ethics. Blackwell: Oxford, pp 241-248.
- Hay, C. (1995). Structure and Agency. In: Marsh, G. & Stoker, D., eds. Theory and Methods in Political Science. Macmillan: London, pp 189-206.
- Marsh, D. & Furlong, P. (2002). A Skin not a Sweater: Ontology and Epistemology in Political Science. In: Marsh, G. & Stoker, D., eds. Theory and Methods in Political Science. Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke, pp 17-41.
- McAnulla, S. (2002). Structure and Agency. In: Marsh, G. & Stoker, D., eds. Theory and Methods in Political Science. Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke, pp 271-291.
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