Social Theory

Structure and agency on an individual idea and behavior is one of the fundamental issues in sociology. In this viewpoint “agency” means the capability of a person to do something separately and to formulate their own free choices while “Structure” means that those factors for example like social class, religion, sex, traditions, and ethnicity etc. which look as if to bound or to control the opportunities that a person encompasses (“Pierre Bourdieu”, 2002).

Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist where he works in a various discipline that gave him a chance to be known in the field of sociology. His works starts from philosophy and literary conjecture then to sociology and to anthropology (Jokivuori, 2007). Here, he offered his theory of practice, which can be seen in great number of his published works, for the better understanding of the relationship that exists between agency and structure, where he presented the idea of habitus (Wolfreys, 2000). The concept of habitus is not new for Pierre Bordieu because this concept started from Marcel Mauss and was also used by some philosophers. It is also introductory to Bourdieu’s theory of social research because in his theory, agency is indirectly apparent in practices or in the habitus, but merely in the practice of subjectivity. That’s why Bourdieu shared a structuralist framework with a close consideration to subjectivity in societal circumstance.

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Habitus can be known as a structure of dispositions where it needs schemes of awareness, idea, and action. So in order to have an answer in any objective circumstances that may come across, this what they called individual agent develops these kinds of dispositions.  In response to the unusual objective circumstances that they come across, an individual agent develops is the one that develops these kinds of dispositions. Thus, Bourdieu have this idea of the need of changing the objective social structures into the subjective, rational understanding of agents (“Pierre Bourdieu”, 2007).

It all means that the main idea in the works of Bourdieu is mostly the habitus, field, and investment (“Structure and Agency”, 2007). The agent in a field where there is a growing set of roles and dealings in a communal area, where a variety of forms of assets such as the reputation or economic resources are at risk.  As the agent accommodates to his or her location in the field, the agent internalizes dealings and potential for working in that area.

What Bourdieu want in his work was to reunite agency and structure, as some exterior arrangement are into the habitus while the dealings of the agent focus on the outside interaction that exists between each other into the public relations in the field  (“Structure and Agency”, 2007). Hence, the assumption in Bourdieu’s work is for have a discussion so that the concept of externalizing the internal and vice versa can be resolved (“Structure and Agency”, 2007).

Anthony Giddens is a british sociologists who developed “Structuration Theory” in such work as “The Constitution of Society”, which brought him an international fame on the sociological arena (Wade & Schneberger, 2006).

For Giddens, the theory of structuration is a challenge to resolve speculative dichotomies of social classification such as agency/structure, subjective/objective, and mico/macro perspectives. It aims to evade limits of structural or agent determinism. Thus, the balancing of agency and structure is known to be as the duality of structure which means that the social structures makes social action possible and at the same time that social action creates those very structures (Wade & Schneberger, 2006). In other words, the people are the one who makes a society, but are at the same time inhibited by it. Action and structure cannot be analyzed individually, because structures are produced, maintained, and can be altered through every dealings, while actions are given evocative figure simply through the setting of structures. And because for Giddens, his theory gives a recursive concept of procedures inhibited and enabled by structures which are formed and reproduced by that certain deed.

Anthony Giddens call Agency as an individual act, because for him, to be an Agent is to be a human, though not all agents are human beings.  The agency is very much tied up to social structures so that they can work together and can generate society together. These so-called agents have the information of their people and this common knowledge they have will therefore create what they called structures.

As mentioned earlier, the balancing of agency and structure is known to be as the duality of structure. Here, Giddens departed from the conceptualization of structure as several known or exterior structure because it is known that the rapport linking agency and structure is among the mainly persistent and complex issues to be solved in social premise. These configuration only gives the figure and form to the public existence of everyone but it itself is not the actual design and figure of the structure (Wade & Schneberger, 2006). Structure simply exists through certain behavior done by individual agents. Likewise, he departed from the initiative that agency is something just restricted within the human being. It does not mean that agency is only for people’s objective in doing things but somewhat to the course or guide of people’s act. So Giddens extremely reformulated the ideas of structure and agency, stressing that action, which has sturdily routinized aspects, is equally accustomed by existing literary structure as well as also makes and remakes those structures all through the ratifying procedure. He recommended that even those structural belongings of the people and social systems are factual; they still don’t have any significant survival. As an alternative, they only vary on the regular action of public imitation. As a result, the essential field of learning in the communal sciences consists of social practices disciplined across space and time (Wade & Schneberger, 2006).

A University Instructor and a previous head of the Department of African and American Studies is non other than Patricia Hill Collins (“Society Panel”, 2007). She came to nationwide awareness for her book Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Conciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Collins is usually considered as one of America’s important black feminists.

Matrix of Domination is a sociological conjecture that describes or clarifies the subject of domination that involved the race, a particular group, and sex, despite the fact that it is recognized as different communal category, which is entirely interrelated. Sexual orientation, religious conviction, and even the age of an individual is also a concern of this theory (“Matrix Of Domination”, 2007)

It is considered that those black women’s has an increasing authority as an agent that is full of comprehension. Those African-American people especially those women possess these characteristics, such as they are self-defined and also self-reliant people, because they can confront sex, group domination, and also the race. These Afrocentric feminists believed that a better understanding of everything is much more important so that it can help those exploited individuals and they believed that it is very significant to have new information so that a change in their lives can happen. So knowledge plays an important role in the public dealings of supremacy and confrontation (Brown, 2006).