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On Agency - Essay Example

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(Insert name) (Course instructor) (Course) (Date) Agency The term agency has varying definitions. However, according to sociology, agency refers to the extent to which individuals make their own free choices and the capacity to which they act independently…
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"On Agency"

Download file to see previous pages This is because any decision made will be on the basis that someone is watching. Agency is determined or limited by various factors of influence referred to as structure. Examples of structure include customs, religion, ethnicity, gender and social class. Panopticon is a building which has a central tower. At the periphery of Panopticon is an annular building; at the center is a tower. The tower is fitted with wide windows which open on to the inner side of the ring. The annular building is divided in to cells which extend to the whole width of the building. The cells have two windows. One window is on the inner side facing the central tower while the other is on the far end of the cell. It is strategically placed there to allow light to enter in to the cell traversing the whole cell. The Panopticon is a prison. The prisoners in the Panopticon are watched by the inspector from the central tower. However, they cannot be able to see inside the tower. This way, they never know when they are being watched or not. The prisoners therefore have to behave at all times because they feel that they are being watched even if no one is watching because they cannot tell. The only way that the prisoners counter attack the watch of the inspector is by turning their backs on him. They face the outer window leaving the inspector to watch their back. When the inspector notices this, he has to go and issue a warning to the prisoners from hiding from his watch. This situation is symbolic of how agency is first inhibited by society. Society has been structured in a manner similar to Panopticon. Just like the prisoners, someone somewhere is always watching. The problem is, you can never know who it is and where exactly they are watching you from. The two windows are symbolic of the options of power and rules, and agency. The inner opening are the rules which have been laid down to dictate the manner in which things are to be done. The outer window symbolizes the possibility of independence; agency. This can be verified by the manner in which the prisoners turn their backs on the inspector and face the outer window. Similarly, we as individuals turn our backs from what has been decided for us and seek comfort by looking for the possibility of independence. It however takes little time for society to come running to us, in many forms, reminding us that our actions and decisions should be in line with its expectations. This is one perspective of viewing the reasons why agency cannot and has not been fully realized in society. As pointed out earlier, agency is the extent to which individuals make their own free choices; alternatively, it is the ability of an individual to act on their own will. However, this ability will be limited by more than just being watched by society. Personal experiences, and individual and societal perceptions, with respect to the circumstances that an individual is in and the environment that they have been born in or are part of, form a cognitive belief structure. These beliefs will affect one’s ability to act on their own will as they often cause conflicts between parties that are involved. For example, a child who wants to be a musician and has been born in family of scholars such as engineers, will have a hard time convincing their parents. This is because the cognitive belief that the family has formed is that success can only be achieved when one finds a career in books rather than in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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