Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

How does Social Structure influence Human Agency? Margaret S. Archer Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. 1 A podcast of this address is also available.

Similar presentations


Presentation on theme: "How does Social Structure influence Human Agency? Margaret S. Archer Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. 1 A podcast of this address is also available."— Presentation transcript:

1 How does Social Structure influence Human Agency? Margaret S. Archer Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. 1 A podcast of this address is also available via: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/srhe-society- for-research/id ?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

2 Generative mechanisms in the Social order Here we have to deal with TWO strata of reality Those of social and cultural structures into which people are born and live (Structures can be centralized but people cannot) Peoples own personal powers (People can be reflexive: structures cannot) THEREFORE we must examine their interplay 2

3 How does Structure (and Culture) influence human Agents? Without an account of HOW this influence is exerted we simply have a Realist statement about the - temporal priority - relative autonomy - causal efficacy of STRUCTURE & CULTURE at a different (higher) stratum influencing those at a lower stratum (people) BUT HOW? 3

4 Realism against Reification The causal power of social forms is mediated through social agency Bhaskar, Possibility of Naturalism, p. 26 This tells us nothing about the mediating process until we have unpacked what through means and involves 4

5 Through is simply presented as Conditioning 5

6 BUT conditioning depends upon 2 sets of properties and powers 1. A specification of HOW Structural and Cultural properties IMPINGE UPON AGENTS 2. A specification of HOW agents use their own PERSONAL POWERS to RESPOND THEREFORE it will not do to deal exclusively with (1) which necessarily NEGLECTS (2) 6

7 7 Structural and cultural factors shape the social context for agents These results of past actions are deposited in the form of current situations. They account for what there is (structurally and culturally) to be distributed and also for the shape of such distributions; for the nature of the extant role array, the proportion of positions available at any time and the advantages/disadvantages associated with them; for the institutional configuration present and for those second order emergent properties of compatibility and incompatibility, that is whether the respective operations of institutions are matters of obstruction or assistance to one another. In these ways, situations are objectively defined for their subsequent occupants or incumbents. Archer, Realist Social Theory, p. 201.

8 8 People on fixed incomes The effects of inflation on those with fixed incomes. Objective constraints are undeniable, despite their (mis)understanding But their subjectivity explains what they actually do

9 The Two-Stage Model Third-person accounts 1. Structural and/or cultural properties objectively shape situations for agents and exercise constraints and enablements in relation to:- 2. Subjective properties imputed to agents and assumed to govern their actions: -Promotion of vested interests (Neo-Marxism) -Instrumental Rationality (Rational Choice Theory) - Habitus/ induced repertoires (Bourdieu/Discourse Theory) 9

10 Third-Person accounts as hydraulic Deprive agent of personal powers Describe how social properties & powers impinge on agents, but NOT how they are received by them: activation, evasion, suspension Subjective reception, in light of personal concerns is needed to explain what people do Without this, Sociology settles for what most people do most of the time – a retreat into Humean constant conjunctions 10

11 Reflexive Mediation Reflexivity (reflexive deliberations) mediate the conditional influence of structural/cultural factors upon courses of action taken. Reflexivity (reflexive deliberations) mediate the conditional influence of structural/cultural factors upon courses of action taken. Reflexivity: the regular exercise of the mental ability, shared by all (normal) people, to consider themselves in relation to their (social) contexts and vice versa. Reflexivity: the regular exercise of the mental ability, shared by all (normal) people, to consider themselves in relation to their (social) contexts and vice versa. Reflexivity is how reasons become causes for courses of action. Reflexivity is how reasons become causes for courses of action. The importance of Reflexivity varies with the nature of social formations. The importance of Reflexivity varies with the nature of social formations. 11

12 Reflexivity is practised through the INTERNAL CONVERSATION Our Personal Powers are exercised through inner dialogue ICON is responsible for defining - our concerns – what matter to us - our projects i.e. courses of action - our practices – what we do in any social context 12

13 Internal Conversation & the Good Life Defining CONCERNS (Internal goods) Developing PROJECTS (Micro-politics) Establishing PRACTICES (Modus vivendi) 13

14 INTERNAL CONVERSATION as the mediatory mechanism ICON mediates between our structurally shaped circumstances and what we deliberatively make of them Because constraints and enablements require something to constrain and enable – these are our projects We cannot make what we please of them. That would be the epistemic fallacy Get circumstances wrong & the subject pays the price – comprehendingly or not 14

15 The Three-Stage Model follows 1. Structural and/or cultural properties objectively shape situations for agents and exercise constraints and enablements in relation to:- 2. Subjects own set of concerns, as subjectively defined by them 3. Courses of action are produced through the reflexive deliberations of agents who subjectively determine their projects in relation to their objective circumstances 15

16 Without a mediatory mechanism between Structure and Agency! There would be no explanation of what people actually do Social science would settle for - what most of the people do most of the time - under circumstances X, a statistically significant % of agents do Y Meaning that social science would have returned to Humes constant conjunctions Because our personal powers would again have been excluded 16

17 Introducing Reflexivity in order to explain what we DO It allows – individually and collectively – that we seek many different ends Agents are radically heterogeneous People modify their goals in terms of contextual feasibility, as they see it (not psychologically static OR reducible) Agents are active NOT passive: They adjust their projects to what they WANT TO REALIZE and THINK THEY CAN (fallibly) Without allowing for the above, we cannot explain what they Do and that they are ACTIVE AGENTS 17

18 18

19 Educational interaction in the Centralized System Central Government Teaching Profession External Interest Groups Educational change Aggregation of demands Polity directed Political Manipula tion Political Manipula tion

20 Educational Interaction in Decentralized Systems Central Government Teaching Profession External Interest Groups Educational change Polity directed Political Manipula tion Political Manipula tion External Transacti ons Internal Initiation

21 Dominant Modes of Reflexivity Communicative Reflexives Those whose Internal Conversations need to be completed and conformed by others, before they lead to action Autonomous Reflexives Those who sustain self-contained Internal Conversations, leading directly to action Meta-Reflexives Those who are critically reflexive about their own Internal Conversations and critical about effective action in society Fractured Reflexives Those who cannot conduct purposeful Internal Conversations, but intensify their own distress and disorientation 21


Download ppt "How does Social Structure influence Human Agency? Margaret S. Archer Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. 1 A podcast of this address is also available."

Similar presentations


Ads by Google