Do People Have Choices?

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Social Constraints: Do people have choices? (Structural vs Interpretative theories) Choices are a range of possibilities from which one or more may be selected. Some simple examples include deciding whether to get up in the morning or go back to sleep. Different sociological theories, mainly the structural perspectives and the interpretive perspectives, have divergent views on the argument as to whether people have the freedom to make choices of their own. Structuralists view society as having a clear structure that directs individuals to behave in certain ways, and thus the choices human beings have are limited. Despite not denying the existence of social structure, interpretivists, who see this structure as rising out of the action of individuals, believe that individuals definitely have the freedom to choose who they want to be and where they want to be. In Functionalists’ point of view, choices are constrained by the shared norms and values of society. This collective conscience necessitates individuals to act in terms of the requirement of society. If someone fails to perform within the requirement of society, he/she will be disapproved and have to face the consequences of his act. For example, people who commit murder are faced with the punishment of life imprisonment because the act of killing is strictly prohibited in a society. Through the fear of various social sanctions, people would rather restrain their passions and give up their liberty of doing something they desire but may be against the rules of society such as taking drugs. Therefore, it is true to some extent that the choices human beings have are governed and controlled by the structure at all times. While Marxists suggest that it is the economic class background that determines your life chances. Economic factors exert the primary influence and largely shape other aspects of
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