>Structure vs Agency

>To what extent do individuals control the events around them? And to what extent do structures such as the social, environmental, economic and state systems control those individuals?

Many professors have told me that this is one of the hardest and longest lasting questions in social science. Yet I think we can adress it simply if we so choose. Who has the biggest impact; you or the structures, groups and rules in which you live out your life within/by?

One comment

  • >Structure and agency are obviously different to separate. What is society if not a collection of individuals?However the existence of any structure certainly affects decision making. It affects what choices are available and what choices are taken.I would say that for this reason structures are rightly used more prominently throughout Social Science literature. In an anarchic system individual behaviour is very different to that of ours. Children who grow up deprived of much human contact, and deprived of interaction within the greater structures that are the society, economy, state etc, do make substantially different choices to those we make.On the international level it is nearly always structures that play the prominent role, for example in causing wars. Civil wars are caused when the state, social, economic and international structures are fundamentally out of sync with each other, and something sparks off an attempt to re-synchronise them.

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