Unit 9: Sociological Aspects of the Public Services in Contemporary Society
Scenario and Introduction:

Key sociological figures have demonstrated the influence social structures have upon individuals and groups within society and ultimately this can impact upon their relationship with the public services. This assignment will explain the tensions between structure and agency, it will also explain Marxism, Functionalism and one other theory of socialisation. Then it will explain norms and rules of groups or ‘gangs’ in society.
P1.1 – Structure and Agency

‘Structure’ or structuralism was developed in response to understanding society in a time of social change. Structuralism tries to give an insight into the function of society, it states that the world we see around us is the product of our ideas, and it is not randomly generated. The structuralism theory was supported by Marx and Durkheim.

‘Agency’ or social action consists of individual factors interacting with each other in a situation that has a physical or environmental aspect, social actions factors or two parts are social and cultural. Social action examines smaller groups of people within society, whereas structuralism focuses on society as a whole. As Haralambos and Holborn (1992) note: structural approaches, such as functionalism and some versions of Marxism emphasize the way that the structure of society directs human behaviour. The structuralism view was/is supported by Functionalism and Marxism, whereas social action was supported by weber. Socialism tries to give a view into the function of society.
Whereas social action gives a physical or environmental aspects. Both structure and agency have strengths and weaknesses, one of structuralisms strengths is that it attempts to understand a society as a whole, rather than being studied in isolation or small groups, if it’s not studied valuable insight is lost. One of the strengths of social action is that the social action approach does not...