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Structure and Agency in Revolutionary Theory - Essay Example

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Structural theorists postulate that elements responsible for defining human culture should be perceived more in the context of their relationship with a larger all-encompassing structure and system. The theory behind this thinking is referred to as structuralism that seeks to…
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Structure and Agency in Revolutionary Theory
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Structure and Agency in Revolutionary Theory Structural theorists postulate that elements responsible for defining human culture should be perceived more in the context of their relationship with a larger all-encompassing structure and system. The theory behind this thinking is referred to as structuralism that seeks to reveal by uncovering the structures upon which the foundation of human thinking, emotions and perception are grounded. Structural theorists believe that human life cannot be defined through the intelligible except of their interaction, but through a variant structure characterized by constant laws of abstract culture. The school of culture and agency is based on the premise that repeated conditioning of individuals through their culture patterns human behaviour. Agency forwards the notion that human behaviour is determined by free will that charts the way for independent action and free will in making choices. Revolutions are occurrences in governance that result to a change in leadership, which is achieved through various means. Numerous schools of thought have been forwarded in an attempt to explain and the understanding of the making and the instigators of revolutions. This paper seeks to highlight the debate between structural theorists and the culture and agency school to the 1906 constitutional revolution in Iran.
The 1906 constitutional revolution in Iran was instigated by the Shah’s extravagance, which led to the exploitation and destruction of the nation’s economy (Poulson 104). Teheran was the seat of Persian power and majority of the population was composed of merchants, noble classes, religious authorities and the educated elite who felt and understood the consequences of the Shah’s extravagance (Poulson 106). They were the main instigators of the revolution that called for the removal of the chancellor who was to blame for the dire economic situation. After the removal of the chancellor the Shah did not change his extravagant ways and the same group campaigned and advocated for the establishment of an institution would rule by law instead of royal and foreign influence. In the context of this discussion, the 1906 revolution in Iran can be viewed from both perspectives that are presented by structural theorists and the culture and agency school of thought. This is because according to Skocpol, there are always structural forces that underlie the uprising of a revolution. Persia was facing an economic meltdown under the leadership of the Shah, which means the societal structure was under threat (Geels 32). This is in the sense that factors that influence and impact the socioeconomic well-being of people threaten the integrity of the societal structure. In an effort to maintain and sustain their socioeconomic structure, the Persians sought for a variant structure characterized by constant laws of abstract culture through the establishment of a parliamentary system of governance (Geels 40).
The adage by Wendell Phillips that “revolutions are not made, they come” can be interpreted to echo Marxist theory on revolution (Lux 258). This theory postulates that under the forces of agency and structure, people will always be inclined to desire systems and structures that pose as collective bargaining chips for their interests. This can explain the overwhelming influence that the British and the Russians had in Iran during that period. The country was polarised between the two forces determinant theory with regard to revolutionary thinking and perception. Agency theory postulates that people are driven to exercise their free in decision-making processes and at the same time, structuralism plays a key role (Burton 538). This is because free will cannot be sustained if it does not reflect the well-being of the society as a whole.
Work Cited
Burton, John, Lisa Walters, and Suzanne Trill. "VIIIThe Earlier Seventeenth Century:
General." The Years Work in English Studies 88.1 (2009): 530-552.
Geels, F. W. "The multi-level perspective on sustainability transitions: responses to seven
criticisms." Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 1.1 (2011): 24-40.
Lux, R. Revolution and the Will to Change: Cosmology, Cognition and the Mechanics of
Transformation in the Thinking. Utah: University of Utah. 2007. Print.
Poulson, S. C. Social Movements in Twentieth-century Iran: Culture, Ideology, and
Mobilizing Frameworks. Illustrated Edition. New York: Lexington Books. 2006.
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