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Is It Convincing to Propose That Matter Can Have Agency - Research Paper Example

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The substance of this paper "Is It Convincing to Propose That Matter Can Have Agency?" is to examine in depth the assertion in Sociology that matter has agency or a life of its own so to speak. This paper delves into the extent of truth about this assertion that matter does have agency…
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Is It Convincing to Propose That Matter Can Have Agency
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Download file to see previous pages There are also scholars who argue that matter does not have agency. They say that it is individuals and societies who tend to ascribe some kind of agency to matter, but that is limited to continuums of time and space. The substance of this paper is to examine in depth the assertion in Sociology that matter has agency or a life of its own so to speak. This is understood in the context that human beings tend to attribute life-like characteristics to inanimate objects which give them conventionally accepted life and functional forms that they did not have initially. This paper delves into the extent of truth about this assertion that matter does have agency. Meaning of Matter in Social Life Human beings is essentially social beings. They do not exist on their own even if they do make individual decisions at times. In order to augment their existence, they inevitably use matter. Take the cross for example; in Christian ideology, the cross symbolizes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by the Roman authorities in order to enable the salvation of mankind from sin. However, in a much wider sense, the presence of the cross on a building has become an insignia of Christianity as a religion (Christiano, 2008, 228). Another much-explored meaning of matter in sociology is on the question of security. The passport is considered an important document of identification in international travel. Once a passport is handed over at an airport, there are coded messages in it in the form of barcodes which can be read by a computer to establish identity. Moreover, there is an attached photograph and writings which identify the holder. A lot of communication takes place between the passport and the security agent examining without any input from the passport holder. As such the passport is capable to communicate on its own just as if it were a person (Carter, Simon, 2008, 8). These examples are seen as giving the cross and passport a life of their own independent of the people immediately using them. Since they both play an important role in social life; the cross being an agent of Christian identity and belief and the passport being an agent of individual identity and right of getting through a checkpoint; they are both seen as having agency (Carter, Simon, 2008, 8). An important factor to consider in analyzing this role of matter as having agency is the issue of individuality. An individual is a constant factor of sociological analysis. Though there is raging controversy on whether an individual is the basic unit of sociological analysis or there is no such thing as an individual outside the social setting; the bottom line is that any society is made up of individuals. Certain circumstances, like moving through customs, force persons to present themselves as individuals even if they are in a family group. Individuality is, therefore, an inevitable aspect of human existence and identity (Carter, Simon, 2008, 9-10). The passport helps in identifying the human person as an individual. At an airport, even in a family group, an individual has to produce his own passport which identifies him only and not as part of the larger group. Yet the individual is shaped by society and in sociology is therefore seen as part of the larger social group. To sociologists, therefore, the individual is always seen as part and parcel of the society that shapes his character and world view. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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