FINAL ANTH STUDY GUIDE (FULL) - 1 Structure and agency...

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1.Structure and agencyDefinition:The debate over whether structure, the patterned arrangements of society, or agency, the capacity at which individuals can make their own decisions freely, affect human behavior. This discussionrevolves around the idea of whether individuals in society make their own unbiased decisions or if their manner is dictated by the existing social structure. Structuralists like Durkheim think structure is an essential part of society while theorists like Marx believe structure infringes on individualization. Pierre Bourdieu combines these two positions by calling structure and agency complementary forces and by saying that structure influences behavior but is capable of changing and adapting with progression of the population. Both structure and agency influence in human behavior. Structure is the patterned arrangements that limits people’s choices and opportunities available. Agency, on the other hand, is the capacity of individuals to act freely and take their own decisions. Therefore, people’s independent decision making is limited and shaped according to the structures in society. Examples of structures are religion or government which defines our understanding of morals. An example of agency can be an individual voting for a leader. The debate that exists between structure and agency is that individuals cannot separate structure from agency; our choices are limited by the structures of society.Significance:Bourdieu's dichotomical reasoning of “internalizing the external” and “externalizing the internal”in a way to evolve set of roles and relationships between agency and structure has become widely accepted by many sociologists, however, sociologists all disagree to a certain extent regarding the degree of structure and agency that affect human behavior, which gives this idea the ability to completely alter one’s understanding of anthropology and sociology. The degree of subjectivity with this concept exemplifies the uncertainty, and the general acceptance of this uncertainty, of anthropology and sociology.Bourgeois' fieldwork in one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of NYC shows us another perception of structure and agency. The oppression and marginalization that citizens of El Barrio passed through, reflects the structure of society, that is reflects the fact that although a crack dealer would like to change his life and get involve in the normal New Yorking life, he cannot doit, he cannot escape from the structures of society. B also shows us that the way we talk and interact we others reproduces the structure, and so as the structure defines our limits, we also define structure. For that reason, B criticizes that many of the scientific studies that have been done about marginalized groups in society usually involves personal worth and racial determinism, which makes it harder to debate issues such as poverty or inequality. B’s allows us

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