Structure and Agency Essay

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Structure and agency are two theoretical terms used to explain the capacity at which we as people are able to be individuals, and to what extent those influences limit our individuality. Structure refers to the ways in which a society is organized. Agency refers to the behaviors and actions of the individuals within the social structure. Agency is limited by the structure due to cultural barriers and inequalities within the structure. In this essay, I will present an overview of why critical theorists are concerned with those inequalities, and I will further identify the problems within the system contributing to the unequal access to the public sphere, relating specifically to class and gender inequalities. Society is highly…show more content…
As Habermas puts it “the relationship of the individual to the state has increasingly become one of client or consumer services, rather than citizen” (Roberts & Crossley, 5). Due to the limited agency (citizens’ roles) within this sphere, we can conclude that the ongoing competition and negotiation for a role in the public sphere ends with strictly dominant views. In such a monarchy, ordinary citizens such as lower classes and women have limited input when debating politics among other things. The ideal of a place where all opinions are counted, so to speak, fails to provide a sense of individual identity. This is due to the fact that it is pre-destined by the state itself and then turned back to the people- telling them what they will think about particular issues; shown especially through the controlling lens of the media. According to Marx, those who have power over society exert their control as a result of economic power and therefore determine the dominant ideologies within the superstructure model. Being the greater economical and cultural barrier, the structure provides the social world with norms, rules and beliefs pertaining to age, gender, class and one’s cultural identity. Within that structure it becomes apparent that inequalities restrict your agency in terms of nationality, geographical location, class etc. In agreement with Marx, the dominant views are generally the views of the superior class; the elite. One example
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