http://bit.ly/soc97 Vaughn Tan SOCIAL THEORY STRUCTURE AND AGENCY Structure, agency A central debate in sociology Do individuals get to affect the context they exist in OR do the contexts determine the individuals OR both? A theory of structure (Sewell/Swidler) › (Mis)conceptions of structure › Structure [n] deterministically structures [v] (Sewell) › No room for agency (Sewell) › Fixed, immutable, unchanging (Sewell) › The goal › Connect agency and structure › Introduce change into structure › Connect material and cultural concepts of structure Agency (Giddens) Action Continuity Intentionality Accountability Structure (Giddens) Knowledge and memory Recurrence and mobilisation Capabilities and presuppositions Rules in context, without a subject Structure | System | Structuration Resources (Sewell) “Resources are anything that can serve as a source of power in social interactions” (Sewell 9) Schemas: ways of using resources. Resources: things that are used by schemas. Structure both Provides resources and rules for action And is reconstituted through this action “Those who in a largely unquestioning way accept certain dominant perspectives may be more imprisoned within them than others are, even though these perspectives help the former to sustain their position of dominance” (Giddens, 239). Positions Position-taking Dispositions Fields as collections of positions Social space as a space of differences defined by the distributions of economic and cultural capital. Dispositions do these things 1. 2. 3. 4. Guide decisions about which positions to take Inform action in the taking of those positions Generate distinct and distinctive practices Account for style unities in individual and group “what the worker eats, and especially the way he eats it, the sport he practices and the way he practices it, his political opinions and the way he expresses them are systematically different from the industrial owner’s corresponding activities” (Bourdieu 272). Habitus › Constituted in practice, oriented to practical functions (277). › Durable, transposable, structured, structuring (278), taken for granted (281). › Virtues made of necessity (279). › Products of history and producers of practices (279) and thoughts/perceptions/actions (280). › Limits the inappropriate (280). › Material conditions produce habitus through probabilistic access and exposure to stimuli, or what Bourdieu calls “statistical commonality” (285). › Produce objective meaning without subjective intention (286). Normalcy v1 You wake up in the morning and decide that you want some cereal. You walk to the kitchen and pull out your box of Trader Joe’s O’s and pour yourself a bowlful. Then you shower, put on your Walmart uniform, and take the bus to work. Today is payday and you know that you’ll have to pay rent, but you did a lot of overtime this month so there will be a bit left over. Awesome! Your pal Mort gets off his assembly line job around 9pm, and you’re going to blow the extra on a couple of beers at the local bar. Normalcy v2 You wake up in the morning and decide that you want some cereal. But you’ve woken up on your private jet, so the cabin attendant brings you some Bircher muesli. You shower on the jet, put on your bespoke suit, and hop in the car waiting on the tarmac. Off to sell another company! Afterwards, you call up your college buddy, the son of the Aga Khan. He lives in Zurich but will hop in a chopper and meet you in Geneva after his Pilates class. Awesome! There’s a nice place you both really like in Geneva where they make great Chasselas and rösti. The types of capital › Accumulated labor › More types › cultural (243) › social (248) › Costly conversion › “every type of capital is reducible in the last analysis to economic capital” (253). › labor-time required for conversion. › riskiness, difficulty of transmission (254). Change we can believe in › Multiple structures › Transposability of schemas › Unpredictable resource accumulation (and conversion) › Different types of resources › Intersecting structures Agency revisited › Intentions, creative action (Sewell 20) › Differing degrees and types of ability to change the world. › Different positions/histories give different people different schemas and different resources (21) Culture/structure/agency “Strategies of action are cultural products … which provide resources for constructing strategies of action. When we notice cultural differences we recognize that people do not all go about their business in the same ways; how they approach life is shaped by their culture” (Swidler 284). › Unit acts vs strategies of action (Swidler 276) › Strategies of action = broader concept than Bourdieu’s habitus, analogous to assemblages of schemas (Sewell) › Culture as toolkits for strategies for action › Culture as model of and model for experience (278) › Settled vs unsettled lives; existing vs new strategies for action; taken-for-granted vs selfconscious (279) FINAL PAPER Phenomenon › A topic is not a phenomenon › A phenomenon must be clear and specific Thesis › Contains three things. What are they? 1. 2. 3. Argument (includes brief description of phenomenon) Plan of paper (how the argument will be made) Evidence that will be used Argument › An argument is not › a fact › an opinion › How do you check if you have a real argument? › plausible counterargument How to write this paper 1. Find your phenomenon. Make it something you might have fun writing about. Sociology is everywhere. 2. Sit down with a sheet of paper and choose three theorists, then write down › which parts of their theory are applicable to the phenomenon › what they would say about the phenomenon. 3. Write your thesis. You may run it by me by email. 4. Write the essay.