Relationship Between Structure And Agency

1823 WordsMar 13, 20178 Pages
The relationship between structure and agency is a key discussion point in sociology. The concept was brought to life by the sociologist Georg Simmel, but has been discussed by many other famous theorists, such as Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. The partnership between structure and agency are crucial to the development of society, and the process of individualization. Structure The Oxford Dictionary of Sociology Defines structure as “A term referring to any recurring pattern of social behaviour or, more specifically, to the ordered interrelationships between different elements of a social system or society… It is sometimes used rather loosely to refer to any observable ‘pattern’ of social activities” More simply put, structure is the…show more content…
Unsurprisingly, Karl Marx was a large believer in the importance of structure in society. Marx’s conception of society has its grounds in a theory of action: as he put it, human beings make their own history. But Marx goes on to argue that they do this is circumstances which are not of their own choosing, and he develops an analysis of how action is organized by these circumstances as material conditions of production which structure and determine the social relationship that are primarily generated by the particular material forces of production utilized, which include not only raw materials but also the technology which is used to extract and work them into products (Jenks 15). So while Marx did believe that humans had some form of agency (being able to make their own history) he recognized that it should appear through the confines of a strict structure, and that the particular structure of a society is determined by the resources and modes of production utilized. Agency In opposition to structure, agency is the amount of free choice an individual has. This perspective is much more of a micro approach, as it believes that the individuals have the ability to make choices without influence from outside forces and places a large emphasis on free will. Under this belief, individuals have a large influence on society, and with a knowledge and understanding of the structure you are a part of, you can make decisions that
Open Document