COMPARE AND CONTRAST BOURDIEU'S APPROACH TO THE AGENCY/STRUCTURE DICHOTOMY WITH THAT OF GIDDENS
2727 WordsMay 17, 200511 Pages
COMPARE AND CONTRAST BOURDIEU'S APPROACH
TO THE AGENCY/STRUCTURE DICHOTOMY
WITH THAT OF GIDDENS
In recent years, several authors have attempted to deal with the problem of the relationship between agency and social structure. This has manifested itself in the theory of structuration. Anthony Giddens' structuration theory is one of the best-known and most articulated efforts to integrate agency and structure. His theory proposes a duality of structure, in that agency and structure cannot be seen as independent of one another. Pierre Bourdieu is another important theorist to contribute to this agency-structure debate. His theory of habitus and field is concerned principally with overcoming the opposition between objectivism and…show more content…
Giddens response to this apparent problem is to emphasize the difference between 'option' and 'feasible option' (Thompson, 1989). An individual who has only one option is not an agent, for there is no possible way in which that individual could have done otherwise. But an individual who has only one feasible option is an agent. This is because the option is only limited to one in that given the individual's wants and desires, there is only one option that the individual would regard as reasonable to pursue (Thompson, 1989). A possible course of action would not be an option for an agent if it had no relevance to anything that the agent wanted. Giddens manages to preserve the link between structure and agency by defining agency in such a way that any individual in any given situation could always be an agent.
The core of the structuration theory lies in the ideas of structure, system, and duality of structure. Structure only exists in and through the activities of human agents. It is what gives form and shape to social life, but it is not itself that form and shape. Without this structure, social systems would not exist. Giddens does not deny the fact that structure can be constraining on action, but he feels that sociologists have exaggerated the importance of this constraint. Furthermore, they have failed to emphasize the fact that structure