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Conflict between Individual Agency and Social Structure

Individual  Agency  is about  the thoughts  and  activity done  by  the  people  who  express  their individual  power. Whereas Social Structure is  where  people  collectively work to mould set  of  social  forces,  relationships, institutions,  and  features  of  social structure  which  take action together to   modify  the  thought,  behaviour,  experiences,  choices and  the direction  of  the life  led by  all  the  people. Whereas Agency  is  the  power or  the  authority  people  have  to  think for  their  own selves and  do  things accordingly (Ostrom 2014 ).  But  from  the  very  early  period  there  is  a  controversy and  debate  among  the  two  structures within  the  society  (Black  2014).  This  assignment  is  about  the  genesis  of  the two  theory  in  the  society.  The  different attributes  of  two  structures  and  their  validity  in  the  real  life.

It  can  be  considered  the  concept  of  individual agency and  social  structure  in  early  sociological  theory  always diverted towards reductionist. It  can  be  analyzed  from  the  traditional  Marxist  theory  is the  agent of  social    transformation  is collective. Thus, for this reason the collective behaviour  is  more  acknowledgeable  (Rapport  2014). The social  collective structures history, human-beings because the  social  living being is  the factor  of  the  social  change .   The  human  essence  is  not obtained from only  individual  it  can  be  gathered  from  the  social  collectivity  only.  Dialectical Materialism  one  of  the  theory  of Marxism which  embodies  the  fact  that  interaction  occurs  between  the  two  classes  which  are mainly  capitalist  and proletariat  class   rather  than  between  two  individuals (Block 2013) .

Anthony Giddens,  a sociologist    brought  out  the  tension and  conflict with  the social  structure  and  individual  agency. Basically  this  is  the debate  between Marxist  and  human  perspectives  in  the growth  of  structuralism  in  the  1970s  and 1980s.  Whereas  Giddens  formulated a  structure   which  is  not  only  based  on conventional  concept  of  structure,  but he differentiated   between   the  terms  the  social  structure, structures  and   structural  properties  ( Diani 2013) .  He also said  a  fact these  generic  terms  do  not  fall  under  the  category  of  any form  they  just  exists  physically  and  thus  it  can  be  observed  which  gives a  proper shape to  the  social  life. According  to Giddens  structure  is  something  which  is  not exterior  to  human beings. It  is  only  there  within the  human  being and  it  is  expressed  through  the  activities  of  each  individual (Tilly 2015). Hence,  he  formulated  the  idea  that  structure  is not  out  of  agency   and  agency is  not  adherent  to  the  individual  person but  its  only the  activities  of  the  individual. The  action  of  the  individual  is  rather regulated  by  the  laws ,  policies  and customs  by  the  society.  Gidden  suggests the  structure  is  socially propagated  and  thus  for  this  reason social  practices  are needed  to  learned  and  examined   and  the  social practice  changes  from  time  to  time.  Practice  symbolizes the  connection between  the  structure  and  the  action in  other  words practice  is  a ‘structured  action’ (Ridley-Duff and Bull 2015)  .

Conclusion

Individuals or  individual  person  creates  and  initiates structure   by   taking  actions but  action also  dissolves  into  the  society. The  activities  which  are  repeated  and believed  are  designated  as  social  practice. For  example-     from  the  very  early  period after  marriage  women  will  go  into her  in laws  house.    It  has  now  become  a  social  practice  as well as  asocial norm, whereas  it  has  not  become  a  practice  in  one  day  ,  it  has  mainly  occurred   after  repeated activities  due  to  the deteriorating  position  of  the  women (Sztompka  2014).  Hence this   social practice has formulated this social institution.  So,  in that  case  it  can be said that all  social  practices  are  not  negative  or  not  positive.   Each  individual  must  have  the  capacity  to assimilate  the  depth  of  the  institution  and  must  have the  ability  to adapt  it (Fink and Yolles 2001 ). A continued activity leads to social practices, which transforms into social institution.  So,   primarily  the  actions  are  regulated  by the  individual  thoughts and  reflections  (Muller, Pfarrer  and Little 2014).  On  the  other hand the structure formulated  by  each  individual ,  but  if  there is an  shortcoming  within  the structure  for  example the  class  structure  which  always  tends  to  exploit  the  people  with  poor background ,  at  one point  of  time it  has  become   a  regulation. So  basically  both  of  them the  individual agency  and  social  structure   are   not  separate  things. They  must  be  looked  after  as  dependent  and complementary  attributes  without  which  a society  does  not  exist.  Individual  human  activities  and  society  must  be  observed and accepted as  integrated part .  Agency influencing  the  structure  and structure  is  restricting the  individual  agency. In  the  society  structures  comes  first  which sometimes  regulates  and  compels  to  change  the  thoughts of  individual.  It  mainly  happens in conservative society ,  in  a liberal  society  individualism  is  given  more  importance.

Conclusion

In  conclusion,  it  can  be  said  that  the society is  broadly  categorized  into  the  advantageous  and  disadvantageous class.  Advantageous  class is basically the capitalist  and  the  rich  class  who  mainly modifies  social  decisions  of  the  common  people.  They  also  regulates  the  social  institution  according  to  their  own  interests.  It mainly happened in the early period.  In  the  modern  days  there  is  a  place  of  individual  thoughts  but still  the  people which  comprises  of  the  politicians, the business  tycoons  and other  influential  people  constructs  or  give  ultimate  verdicts  to  the  society.  But  now a days  human  rights  activist,  ngos  and  media  restricts  that  power,  they  always  try  to  safeguard    not  only  the  fundamental  rights  of  the  common  people  but  many  legislations and  activities  are  also  taken  by  them.  Therefore the conflict between  the  social  collective structure  and individual agency  has mainly  risen  from  the  existence  of  the  class structure.  Otherwise  there  would  not  have  been  any  tension the  two  structures  because both  of  them  are  complementary to  each  other because  without  the  thinking of  the  individual  social  structure  cannot  exist. On  the  other  hand  individual  is  a  part  of  the  social  collective  structure.

References

Black, D., 2014. The social structure of right and wrong. Academic Press.

Block, D., 2013. The structure and agency dilemma in identity and intercultural communication research. Language and Intercultural Communication, 13(2), pp.126-147.

Diani, M., 2013. Networks and social movements. The Wiley-Blackwell encyclopedia of social and political movements.

Fink, G. and Yolles, M., 2015. Collective emotion regulation in an organisation–a plural agency with cognition and affect. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(5), pp.832-871.

Muller, A.R., Pfarrer, M.D. and Little, L.M., 2014. A theory of collective empathy in corporate philanthropy decisions. Academy of Management Review, 39(1), pp.1-21.

Ostrom, E., 2014. Collective action and the evolution of social norms. Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research, 6(4), pp.235-252.

Rapport, N., 2014. Social and cultural anthropology: The key concepts. Routledge.

Ridley-Duff, R. and Bull, M., 2015. Understanding social enterprise: Theory and practice. Sage.

Sztompka, P., 2014. Evolving focus on human agency in contemporary social theory. Agency and structure: reorienting social theory. Londres: Routledge, pp.25-60.

Tilly, C., 2015. Explaining social processes. Routledge.

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