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Structure and Agency in Media and Culture - Essay Example

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The researcher of this essay aims to study the relationships between structure and agency to better understand the environments of the society, and how humans living in that structure should exercise their agency for the benefit of society. …
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Structure and Agency in Media and Culture
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Structure and Agency in Media and Culture

The paper tells that a debate, ongoing for decades is persistent in determining the relationship between structure and agency. There is a constant struggle to bridge the structure-agency relationship void and many approaches and theories have been presented in this regard. This paper suggests that Critical Realism Theory offers a solution by presenting a practical way to encounter the problem of structure- agency relations and contexts. Whether considering the voluntary or planned actions of subjects, or micro/macro analysis of a society or individual, the debate on structure and agency relationship keeps recurring. This critical realist approach contends that structure and agency relationship must be studied in order to better understand and explain society or social actions. This ought to be accomplished to achieve a stable state of society and also to accommodate positive social change encompassing individual innovation. The Critical Theory is born with the assumption that social world needs improvement and reforms, as it is deeply flawed. This theory also refutes prediction and explanation to control the social world. The sole aim of this theory is to study the social world in order to change it for the better. It criticizes and seeks to change the imposing social order. Critical theory is political in nature as challenges and confronts the way people are ruled. It is also critical of the organizations that exercise unleashed power to obtain their goals. The theory believes that the social world is the result of interaction between structure and agency....
In order to get close to the solutions of agency-structure problem, we ought to consider the evolutionary cycles of behavior for each ontological position (Hay). The intertwined relationship between agency and structure presents many solutions in a coherent and systematic manner. Taking a different discourse to the assumption that agency and structure clearly differentiated domains and each action requires a pre-existing structure (Archer, 198), whereas the critical realist theory asserts that condition and medium of agency conduct are necessary pre-requisites for the constitution of structures. Their existence is relationally dialectical and neither can exist in isolation from the other (Hay). We are not in substantial control of the social contexts in which we live in, however it definitely requires the exercise of agency to become someone and be labeled as such (Agency Textbook, 2). The agent’s particular decisions and acts are influenced by contexts in which the decision is made. Engaging in certain acts is a result of contextual factors and our choices are a by- product of the uncontrollable contexts as we learn to want the things in relation to the contextual surroundings. Rather than an inborn source, our dreams, aspirations, and agency are intertwined with the contextual sources (Agency Textbook, 2). The dynamics of power determine the enabling and constraint of agency as one has to demonstrate a certain amount of power to exercise agency. Power is continually negotiated and shifts frequently with a multiple, decentralized, and diffused structure (Agency Textbook, 3). The complex structure of power influences agency significantly because how power is exercised on us and how we demonstrate power, ... Read More
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