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Structure Agency Debate Essay

1096 words - 4 pages

This essay will be focusing on the structure-agency debate and the application of this debate to the sociological reading The Dirty Work of Democracy: a year on the streets with the SAPS (2005) by Antony Atlebeker. This easy will demonstrate how the structure-agency debate can help explain Captain Louis De Kosters attitudes towards police work and his actions. The argument I will be putting forward is in support of Anthony Giddens’ Structuration Theory (1984). I will prove this argument by referring to various sociological readings mainly The Dirty Work of Democracy: a year on the streets with the SAPS by Antony Atlebeker (2005) and Sociological Cambridge 2nd Edition by Anthony Giddens.
Within the structure-agency debate, there are two main concepts; structure and agency. Structure is defined as the complex framework which makes up society including all institutions, groups etc... This framework is where we as human beings interact and engage with each other. The term agency is defined as our ability as individuals to make independent choices, plans and decisions, as well as the ability to put these actions and plans into motion (Van Huyssteen; 2003: 56). The structure-agency debate refers to the question of do we have free will? Or are we a product of our environment and then to what extent? It is a debate between social factors and individuals on what extent do social factors influence and shape our decision making or is it merely up to us? The key positions within the debate are; Structuralists who believe our attitudes and actions are influenced mainly by social factors, Humanists who believe that our attitudes and actions are determined by us, as we are in control and lastly the theory of Structuration developed by Anthony Giddens (1984) that “argues that structure and agency are mutually dependent rather than opposed” ( Van Huyssteen; 2003:57) .
From the sociological reading The Dirty Work of Democracy: a year on the streets with the SAPS; the focus will be on the main character Captain Louis De Koster and how the structure-agency debate can explain his attitude towards police work and his actions. It is clearly apparent that Captain Louis De Kosters overall general attitude towards his work as a police officer is one of disenchantment, “disillusionment with policing as a career” and de-motivation (Atlebeker; 2005: 176). His de-motivation is revealed by the fact that he goes to work but does not “do [his job] like [he] used to”, as his commitment for being a police officer is no longer present. Whilst his disenchantment with his role as a police officer is obvious in his belief that his career is over, as white captains no longer achieve promotions (Atlebeker; 2005: 173). Captain Louis De Kosters actions reflect his attitudes of de-motivation, disenchantment and disillusionment. This is evident in his approach of bullying his suspects “with the authority of the law”. As he is aware that the community he serves will not voluntarily help...

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