Individual Autonomy And Social Structure Essay

Individual Autonomy And Social Structure Essay

Length: 837 words (2.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In her 1959 article “Individual Autonomy and Social Structure”, Dorothy Lee evaluates the relationship between individual autonomy, the freedom to make one’s own choices in life, and social structure, the rules governing social interaction stemming from common cultural values. Lee considers the issues that arise when thinking of these two concepts as mutually exclusive, especially in Western society. While Lee explores these issues through examination of various themes within several societies, the following arguments will focus on her analysis of the distribution of labour in traditional Balinese culture. Namely, Lee argues that social structure ought to facilitate mutual respect, which allows for true individual autonomy.
The key social problem that Lee addresses is the apparent contrast between individual autonomy and social structure in Western society. Lee believes that American culture holds the value of individual freedom above all else, to the point of stating that social organisation is an affront to personal liberty. She indicates that American culture pushes the notion that, in order to achieve true independence, one must overcome the obstacle of social structure and find their own way in life. Lee opposes this notion stating that “we have to reconcile principles of conformity and individual initiative, group living and private freedom of choice, social regulation, and personal autonomy” (5). She argues that this apparent dichotomy of individual autonomy versus mutual respect is not necessarily valid. According to Lee, social structure and individual autonomy can coexist and even guide one another. One example discussed in lecture is the game of basketball, in which a great number of mutually agreed-upon rules guide pl...


... middle of paper ...


... are encouraged through the imperative of all working toward a common goal based on a shared culture. Specific to Western culture, Lee emphasises that individual independence ought not to be idealised as the end goal of personal growth. This concept, known as negative freedom, was discussed heavily in lecture and highlighted as unfeasible. It is impossible for an individual to disconnect completely from his or her society and fellow mankind. For example, a lottery winner is not free of society; rather, he or she now controls a large amount of capital to be used in obtaining services from other people. In contrast, true individual autonomy, or positive freedom, derives from working with other individuals within a shared cultural upbringing. This common backdrop allows mutual understanding and respect to flourish, through which true individual autonomy can be reached.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Individual Autonomy and Social Structure Essay

- Individual Autonomy and Social Structure: Dorothy Lee Throughout the years, anthropologist Dorothy Lee has longed to understand the diversity of other cultures in a way to conquer the conflicts that have risen in western society. She addresses the key social problem as one which attempts to pacify social structure and personal autonomy. Dorothy Lee gives an insight on child rearing within the Navaho Indian culture which encourages respect for the sheer personal being; a solution to what she views as crucial involving the disagreements between structure and freedom....   [tags: Link, Navaho Indians, Study]

Better Essays
734 words (2.1 pages)

Individual Autonomy and Social Structure, by Dorothy Lee Essay

- In the article “Individual Autonomy and Social Structure”, Dorothy Lee talks about individual autonomy. She goes through the topic by examining different groups such as; the Wintu Indians of California, the Sikh family, the Navaho Indians of Arizona and New Mexico, and the Chinese culture. All of these different groups and societies give personal freedom to the individuals regardless of age groups. The example of Navaho Indians is used by Lee to demonstrate how “personal autonomy is supported by the cultural framework” (Lee, 1959, p.5)....   [tags: Article Analysis, Culture Examination]

Better Essays
852 words (2.4 pages)

Sociology And Social Activity : How Individual Actors Interpret Social Situations

- INTRODUCTION A vital element of the study of sociology and social activity is the study of how individual actors interpret social situations. Deep within the discussion of how individual actors understand and react to social situations, there is an underlying dualism similar to that of ‘nature versus nurture’. Individuals understand and act in social situations based on both individual interpretation, as well as large underlying structural forces. The micro interpretation of this concept can be critically examined with theories such as interpretivist sociology and symbolic interactionism (Scott 2009:16, 24)....   [tags: Sociology, Agency, Structure]

Better Essays
1714 words (4.9 pages)

Personal Autonomy and Individual Moral Growth Essay examples

- Personal Autonomy and Individual Moral Growth The term 'autonomy', from the Greek roots 'autos' and 'nomos' [self + law] refers to the right or capacity of individuals to govern themselves. Agents may be said to be autonomous if their actions are truly their own, if they may be said to possess moral liberty. The necessity of this moral liberty is made clear in the work of many philosophers, in that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, for example, in whose Social Contract are discussed what Rousseau sees as the centrally important relationships between what he terms the general will, liberty, equality and fraternity....   [tags: Ethics Greece Philosophy Papers]

Better Essays
2223 words (6.4 pages)

Essay on Canadian Association Of Social Workers

- Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) and the Code of Ethics The CASW Code of Ethics outlines a number of values that guide the social work profession. These include (1) Respect for the Inherent Dignity and Worth of Persons; (2) Pursuit of Social Justice; and (3) Service to Humanity (CASW, 2005a). The first value of Respecting the Inherent Dignity and Worth of Persons advocates for the protection of individuals because it encompasses the right to self-determination, human rights, and the right to informed consent (CASW, 2005a, p.4)....   [tags: Sociology, Ethics, Social justice, Autonomy]

Better Essays
707 words (2 pages)

Role of Autonomy and Philosophy in Educational Contexts Essays

- As the terms “Pedagogy” and “Methodology” came to be popular in Language Teaching contexts, people have started looking for an effective way to share knowledge and standardize it. However, most of the teaching methods have been proven to be ineffective, for they always seen to neglect an instruction or skill that the learner should acquire. In response to the forementioned type of teaching methods; in addition to the need of immigrants in Europe to learn a language by themselves, authors like Benson, Crabbe, Boud and Littlewood, have advocated for a proposal called “Autonomous Learning”....   [tags: pedagogy, teaching]

Better Essays
956 words (2.7 pages)

Autonomy, Education, and Societal Legitimacy Essay

- Autonomy, Education, and Societal Legitimacy I argue that autonomy should be interpreted as an educational concept, dependent on many educative institutions, including but not limited to government. This interpretation will improve the understanding of autonomy in relation to questions about institutional and societal legitimate authority. I aim to make plausible three connected ideas. (1) Respecting individual autonomy, properly understood, is consistent with an interest in institutions in social and political philosophy....   [tags: Educational Papers]

Better Essays
2939 words (8.4 pages)

The European Party System Structure Essay

- Looking closer to the European party system structure, it seems that class and religion have constituted major social cleavages upon which voters have identified themselves, and in turn have been translated in the political landscape. Class and religion both constitute cleavages defined by their constitution of social divisions that separate people - conscious of this collective identity and willing to act upon this identity - into groups which characterization exceeds the sole political level....   [tags: Social class, Bourgeoisie, Working class]

Better Essays
1136 words (3.2 pages)

The Theory Of Collective Social Action Essay

- According to Rational Choice Theory, collective social action is generated through resource focused conscious choice that is replete of logic (Scott, 2000, pp. 126, 127) and all but bereft of emotion (Williams, 2001, pp. 58, 70). This line of thought would have the actors of social movements being aspectually disciplined individuals who are capable of disentangling emotion from logic when making decisions. Although there are many individuals who are logically oriented, some theorists disagree that the majority of actors within social movements primarily engage logic (Touraine, 2002, p....   [tags: Social movement, Sociology, Social movements]

Better Essays
1074 words (3.1 pages)

Organizational Structure Essay

- Introduction: This case work will be talking about the Organization’s structure and it significant effects on it members. I will examine the Behavioral of different designs and determine which of the different Organizations the best is and what the effect on the members of the Organization is 1. What might those effects be. I have included several examples of Organizational consequences and effect that could damage the employees motivation to continue working as a strong worker and a motivated employee, some of this characteristic can damage the reputation not only of the company or Organization but of all members working for the company or Organization, we must continue to be fair in are wo...   [tags: Behavior, Designs, Organization]

Better Essays
1208 words (3.5 pages)