Glossary of PS: Structure V Agency

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What is the structure and agency about?
The explanation of social and political phenomena.
What does structure entail?
Refers to context and setting which social, political and economic events occur.
What does the structure explanation connote?
Political institutions and practices show regularity over time. It implies that political behaviour has some sort of order.
What does the agency position entail?
Considers political conduct. Views agents from their autonomy and intentions.
What does agency connote?
It implies that actors have free will and autonomy.
What is the structuralist take on the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany?
Contradictions of the Weimar regime and failings of the government made Germany susceptible to a move to the right. Long tradition of anti-semitism in Germany; (3) recent defeat and the promise of the rise of the Germany and the German army by the Nazis.
What was the agency position on the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany?
(1) hitler's charisma; (2) resistance to the Weimar regime.
What is structualism?
Expanation of political factors, effects and events in terms of structual/contextual factors
What does structualism imply?
It implies logic and consequently implies globlisation from a logical perspective.
Is structuralism in support of naturalism?
Yes, it implies that prediction is possible. And one is able to use the scientific approach/method.
How is rational choice theory related to structuralism?
Rational choice theory is a form of structuralism. It argues that the human nature is a result of something independent of political actors. In other words, structures determine the outcome by influencing actors.
What is the relation between new institutionalism and structuralism?
New institutionalism connotes structuralism in so far as it explains political relations in terms of the operation and constraint shown by political institutions.
Explain 5 ways that political institutions constrain political relations from the new institutionalism (a form of structuralism) perspective.
(1) The sheer volume institutional fabric renders pratices, processes and tendencies hard to reform (Pierson); (2) behaviour is constrained by the value-systems already imbedded in institutions (Brinton and Nee); (3) correct behaviour defined by institutions leads to conformity and also non-conformance (March and Olsen); (4) institutions have preconceived views on possibility, feasbility and desirability (Hall); (5) institutional creation may depend upon existing institutional templates (Dimaggio and Powell).
What are the criticisms of structuralism?
(1) It is nonsensical to not take into consideration the effect that political actors have; (2) if everyone are predictable automotons then this paints a depressing picture of the world. Also, it leads to one not being able to differentiate between a dictator and an elected leader; (3) if we are indeed just bearers of structure how would one know this. It seems it leads to an elitist and patronising position (ivory tower).
What is intentionalism?
It views actors as having motives/intentions. It is these motives and their implications which are said to be significant. It takes the side of agency and disposes of structure.
Which two positions is intentionalism associated with?
Chronocentrism (or, presentism) and contextual parochialism.
What is chronocentrism?
The position that looks at the present time without considering the historical context.
What does contextual parochialism?
This position looks a specific situation without making drawing conclusions which make general transferable rules.
What are the two solutions to the structure v agency problem?
Gidden's Structuration Theory and the critical realism of Bhaskar and Archer.
What does Gidden say about the relation between structure and agency?
They are interrelated.
What does the phrase duality of structure mean in terms of the structration theory?
Structure is the medium and the outcome. It does not exist outside of conduct but intrinsic in production and reproduction.
What does the phrase structuration mean in terms of the structration theory?
The structuring of social relations in virtue of the duality of structure.
What does Giddens emphasis in the structuration theory?
The process of change. This directly includes structure and agency.
In what way is it evident that Marx influenced Giddens structuration theory?
It is clear from his view that agents make structures, but agents autonomy is restricted by already existing structures.
What is different between Giddens' view and Marx's view on the duality of structure and agency?
Both Marx and Giddens believed in the duality of structure and agency; however, Gidden's believed that there was an analogical separation. Put in another way, structure and agency are two different sides of the same coin.
What is Giddens' 'methodological bracketing' about?
It is not possible to consider the structural and agential aspects of a situation at once. Instead one has to consider them separately.
What is Giddens' redefinition of structure?
The rules and resources in reproducted social situations.
How does critical realism differ from the structuration theory?
Bhaskar and Archer proposed the critical realist position. The world, according to critical realism, is split into appearance and reality.
What is Archer's critique of the structuration theory?
She argued that the very idea that structure v agency is a duality and not a dualism is false.
What did Archer say about structure and agency?
Structure and agency are ontologically independent.
Who developed the strategic-relational approach?
Bob Jessop
What does the strategic relational approach say about structure and agency?
Structure and agency exist simultaneously. The distinction is purely analytical. The distinction is therefore not real as neither structure or agency can be isolated.
What is the new concepts which Jessop introduces in the place of the structure and agency distinction?
Strategic actor and strategically selective context.

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