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Lecture 10

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Maggie Cummings

Lecture 10-Power and Agency Key terms □ Racism as plural □ Agency □ Structure □ Durkheim □ Jibaro □ Structural victimization □ Street culture as opposition to marginalization □ Agency as destructive/reinforcing structure □ - the idea that ppl can be categorized based on physical appearances. It is a social construct Race and Racism □ Nira Yuval Davis and Floya Anthias: □ Racism: “modes of exclusion, inferiorization, subordination, and exploitation that present specific and different characters in different social and historical contexts” (1992: 2). □ We need to think about racisms in the plural □ -racism exists as a social category. Race does not exist but racism does □ -Racism is not just one thing. It takes on different forms at different time □ -early racism looks different from racism today □ - in ISR. They are peurtarios living in new York ppl talk abt them as if they lack certain traits and can do things better. Even though they are an ethnicity. They are often represented to as a race □ -how much can we blame the racism on the porterrocans themselves that what the author wants to know Agency versus Structure □ Social identity, social roles determine much about our behavior, rights, etc. □ But we are also individuals with “free will” □ What is “society”? Abstraction or individuals? □ Durkheim: Suicide (1897)—see VSI Ch. 3 □ Individuals tend to choose to act according to their social identity □ -everyone has an identity and it can be divided into many parts. With each social position we have certain rights and responsibilities. □ -society is not an abstract thing □ -individuals make the same choices as those ppl in the same social □ -Durkheim father of sociology □ -suicide seems like the most personal choice u can make yourself □ -urban dwellers more likely to commit suicide than rural areas □ -relationship between agency and structure that structures even the most personal of choice □ -ppl that were more integrated into their society are less likely to suicide □ - more common for ppl in close knit community to commit ultraistic suicide. Killing ur self for family honor □ Agency: the power of individuals to choose what to do, how to act, based on intention (there must be alternatives in order to have agency) □ Structure: larger forces such as political economy, institutions, ideologies, etc. □ - if ur choices are limited it’s not really agency □ -structure are larger forces that control ur decisions like ideology, beliefs, cultural beliefs □ -u can individually change the education institution; u can’t get rid of racism yourself. □ Thinking about poverty, for example: □ Agency suggests people make poor choices □ But people also have agency to resist, manipulate, or negotiate within structures □ Or, are the poor trapped by inescapable structures? □ Does structure constrain agency to the point that it is non-existent? □ -is free will an illusion if our choices are affected by economy, cultural beliefs □ -the power of agency vs. the power of structure is important in poor groups □ -ppl who focus on agency, say that ppl are poor because they make poor choices, becuz they have freewill they can resist the bad choices □ -if u focus on structure, say that poor and unemployed are trapped by bigger institutions, ppl at the bottom hve little opportunity to exercise agency, little opportunity to make choices Bourgois on agency and structure (143) □ The crack dealers are victims of structure forces, but do not accept this passively □ They struggle for respect against these forces by embracing street culture and underground economy □ BUT they become agents of their own destruction and further oppression by doing so □ -by selling crack they are trying to earn respect □ -they do more harm than goo
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