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Structure and Agency by Giddens and Bourdieu - Book Report/Review Example

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Structure and Agency by Giddens and Bourdieu

Bourdieu in his attempt to explain the relationship between agency and structure came up with a theory he called theory of practice. In this theory, he discussed the concepts of habitus, field and capita (Bourdieu, 2008, p.115). l. With these concepts, Bourdieu discussed structure and agency. He said agent is created in a field. Field in this case refers to the social situation where various types of capital, which included prejudice or financial resources, are natured. Agent's development depends on the prevailing forms of capital in the field where it is being natured. Habitus is created as a result of agent's interaction with a number of capitals in a field over a long time.
Bourdieu was in a mission to reconcile structure and agency. He states that, both structure and agency have equally important roles in making a whole human being (Bourdieu, 2008, p.152). External structures are internalized into habitus, as the actions of agent make the mechanism through which different forms of capital are externalized in a person. Bourdieu is concerned with two issues here; externalizing internal, and internalizing external.
On the other hand, Giddens had his view of structure and agency. Giddens developed Structuration Theory. He attempted to create a deeper understanding of the twin view of structure and agency. ...
He blames the society for its own production (Giddens, 1991, p.119). This means, society is the creator of the social actions we see in people or the social actions we exhibit. Giddens insists that social life is not confined to individual actions alone and yet, it is not determined by social forces as Bourdieu suggested in his theory of practices (Giddens, 1976, p.95). Social life in Giddens' view, can not be restricted to the view at the micro level, yet, it can not be studied through the macro level alone. He fully acknowledges the relationship between human agency and social structure. He suggests that, the repetition of individual agent's acts reproduce the structure. According to Giddens, structure exists in such forms as traditions, morality, and institutions but these aspects of structure are subject to change. They can be manipulated to other values or barely any value as human beings choose to overlook them all together, fill their position with other values, or recreate.
Giddens provides that, human beings are faced with situations which prevent them from acting in the manner they prefer (Giddens, 1991, p.123). Then he says, at such a point, there are forces that tend to fight within the person in efforts to resist the thing or condition that object their mannered actions. He goes on to assert that, the rules that govern our social habits or actions are easily expressed in the physical because they are psychological.
The conflict between Giddens and Bourdieu is not one of enmity. It is a conflict in ideas that leads to a clear understanding of the relationship between structure and agency in the social situation. Bourdieu is a French sociologist and an anthropologist while Giddens is a British sociologist (Bourdieu, 1986, ...Show more
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Summary

Structure and agency have been a great deal of topics that have elevated hot debates among sociologists for a long time. Agency is a term used in sociological studies to refer to the ability of individual person to exercise independency in their actions and freely make choices…
Structure and Agency by Giddens and Bourdieu
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