Meaning of AGENCY AND STRUCTURE

Meaning of AGENCY AND STRUCTURE:

A controversy has existed in sociology regarding the nature of relationship betwern the social structure and the individual or human agency. The controversy is on whether the social structure controls the individual and if so, to what extent; how social structure is created and what is the role of the individual in it. There are three shades of opinion in this. One view, supported by phenomenologists or those subscribing to ethnomethodology, which emphasises on the individuality of man and his capacity to create the world for himself. A divergent view is related to Emile Durkheim and the other functionalists. They argue that it is the social structure that determines the actions of the individual. The social structure exists independently from the individual and has a constraining effect on the individual. The third view is a blend of the given earlier two views. Peter Berger and T Luckmann argue that as individuals give a certain meaning to their world, they slowly become a part of the social structure which then guides them and constrains their behaviour. A number of Marxists also support this thinking.