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How does Anthony Giddens attempt to reconcile structure and agency in his sociological theory The fact that we are being asked to describe how Anthony Giddens attempts to reconcile structure and agency into his sociological theory suggests one of two assumptions Either the definitions of structure and agency are seen as being open for sociological debate or the relationship between structure and agency is seen as being a problem area in the final analysis Whilst taking these particular assumptions as a point of reference we begin our quest of clarifying the suspected problems of definition and relationship by reviewing the different perspectives and theories of other well-known sociologists For many years sociology has fallen into three broad approaches Structuralist Social ActionInterpretive and CombinedDialectic Sociologists in the structuralist camp notably the functionalists Auguste Comte 1798-1857 Herbert Spencer 1820-1903 Durkheim 1857-1917 Talcott Parsons 1902-1979 and some Marxist perspectives claimed that objective structures and systems determine the behaviour of agents individuals Agents in turn are not considered able to take independent decisions They merely react to pressure exerted upon them by structures therefore society creates the individual Social ActionInterpretivist sociologists on the other hand Max Weber 1864-1920 and George Herbert Mead 1863-1931 for example wanted to show how human thought experience and conduct are essentially social In other words they believe that the individual creates society Haralambos Holborn 1997903 In terms of their central concepts of system structure and determinism and action agency and will the different opinions between Structural Functionalist theories and Interpretivist Interactionist theories can be usefully seen below System Action Social structures are the basic elements in social life They have a reality over and above individualsThe actions of individuals are the basic elements in social life They are the building blocks of sociology Social reality is external to individuals and constrains their actions Individuals define situations and construct social reality Sociologists must look at the functional connections among the structural
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