Social Structure And Human Agency

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Peanut butter and jelly, left and right shoe, ying and yang, social structure and human agency; if the counter parts could speak to each other they would echo Jerry Maguire (film 1996), “You complete me”. We are all well aware the left and right shoe complements each other very well as does ying and yang, and PB &J, but what about social structure and human agency? One might think social structure over shadows human agency because society is much larger then an individual but this is not always true. Like any relationship between two things there are three possible outcomes; social structure will over shadow human agency, visa versa, or they will complement one another because the two are forced to coexist in our very day lives. Social structure, a set of relatively stable roles, that is, patterned relationships among statuses. In other words social structure affects people because it is an organized system that can influence (negatively or positively) options and opportunities for individuals within social status confinement. Where as human agency refers to a person as an entity making his or her own free decisions. It is easy to see how social structure takes over everyday life, measuring where organizations, families, and people fit in. Individuals are born with ascribed status (sex, race, and ethnicity), social organization, and a social structure determining class, norms, and beliefs. The ranking is the making of a working society by building expectations within each structure. “After we know something about people’s statuses, we generally feel more comfortable interacting with them. The reason for this is that each status is accompanied by certain expectations about how the incumbent (that is, the individual oc... ... middle of paper ... ...ize up people and their social structure. “Understanding where people fit within a social structure is crucial to everyday life. For this reason, when we meet new people, our first inclination is to find out something about their social status. Knowledge of the social positions or statuses that people occupy helps us t know how to interact with them…The nature of your response to others is likely to depend on what you know (or assume) about their social statuses.” (McIntyre p.122) That being said we are also free agencies to do as we please. How the information on social positioning from the encounter is used will determine a person’s personal relationship with social structure and agency in that moment; social structure will over shadow human agency, visa versa, or they will complement one another because in that moment status and agency have a moment to shine.
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