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Structure vs. Agency - Essay Example

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Various sociologists have taken part in the debate on primacy of either structure or agency. Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim are among the many sociologists who have made contributions to the debate. Marx advocates for the agency. The theorists believe that individuality in decision making translate to inevitable modification in the societal structure. Marx believes in starting change from the individual level. Marx acknowledges that both structure and agency bring change to the society but has gone ahead to argue that structure forces people to change even when they do not require the change. Agency brings change that is of everybody’s best interest (Marx & Friedrich 473-483).
Emile Durkheim is another sociologist whose opinion on the debate holds water. Unlike Karl Marx, Durkheim advocates for the uses of structure to instill change in the society. He argues that individuals do not bring change that can influence the entire society. They just bring change based on personal needs. Structure on the other hand brings uniform change to the entire society with reference to the underlying societal needs pinpointed by the authority. He further argues that individuals should not be allowed to formulate their own thoughts. He strongly believes that for the best of the society, structure is important (Durkheim 50-59).
In the debate on who is to blame for the current economic crisis, one can directly apply Marx and Durkheim’s theories on structure versus agency. It is vividly clear that Marx would blame the financial institutions that have designed to vend unbearable mortgages to the people (Powell Para 8). ...Show more
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Summary

Sociologists have been addressing the debate on structure versus agency for a long time. Agency advocates for free will whereby an individual can make his or her own choices without external influence. …
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