Analysing the behaviour of captain de koster using structure and agency debate

8 August 2016

Structure and agency debate provides an understanding of the actions and attitudes of an individual. This essay will be critically analyzing and discussing the attitude and actions of Captain Louis De Koster and how structure-agency debate can help us understand them. It will further go on to unpack the influence that structural or agency factors has on De Koster in the police department. Structure is the network of recurring patterns in which people behave in routine situations (Van huyssteen, E. 2003).

Moreover; it consists of social factors and institutions that influence the individual’s capacity to act such as family, schooling, religion, economy and sets of norms and values. (Van huyssteen, E. 2003). Agency is the ability of an individual, to act and make choices about what happens in their live as well as to make sense of the environment they are in(Van huyssteen, E. 2003). The structure-agency debate argues and questions if the decisions made by individuals are really what they want or if it’s influenced by society and its institutions.

Analysing the behaviour of captain de koster using structure and agency debate Essay Example

According to Giddens,the debate can be contrasted with the “nature versus nurture” debate, which questions whether a person’s physiology (“nature”) or socialisation (“nurture”) predominates in the formation of an identity, because structure-agency debate may be understood as an issue of socialisation against autonomy in determining whether an individual acts as a free agent or in a manner dictated by social structure. In this extract, we are able to understand the negativity towards police work caused by structure. Captain Louis is always complaining and criticizing the police service because it is more of a norm in his working environment.

“… the process had also taught me that complaining was part of the organizational culture of the detective service. ” (Altbeker, A. 2005:169). De Koster revealed his negative actions resulting from structure and its aspects such as race, gender politics and restructuring of police work. His attitude was generally contradicting with his actions because, he show commitment in what he does, he still performs his duties in the police service even though he describe it as being bitter, “half the time you think that management thinks it would be better if you packed your bags and fucked off” (Altbeker, A.

2005: ). His attitude depicts racism because he thinks that apartheid is repeating itself but its reverse this time- none of the promotion posts would be given to a white detective. Majority of the police officers in the police service were given high positions without being trained and that really made De Koster angry because he saw it being a racial discrimination, consequently it affected the way he performed his work- which made him not to have friends at work because of the racial differences (that did not stop him from going to work though).

Although his attitude was of racism, he however showed dedicated to his work and wanted to get positive results because he knew that society expect policemen to do their jobs efficiently. He was negative and arrogant because he felt unwelcome in his working environment, like they did not want him around. Furthermore, his pride about being a policeman was fading away daily, in fact it was gone because they used to rub it in his face, telling him that he likes being a police and he is negative. The police had some sort of an illusion about how being a policeman is not just about the money and the career, “…

I was reflecting on what De Koster had told me about his disillusionment with policing as a career, and with the police service as his employer. His views were an echo of wailing and teeth-gnashing that I encountered amongst detectives-especially white detectives… ” (Altbeker,A. 2005:176). This shows that his actions were influenced by structure because even though he hated the system in the police service-he just had to comply because he wanted to do his job and fulfil his expectations as a police officer. In addition he was forced to remain in the police service because he knew about the unemployment rates out there.

Structure constrained him to act in such a way that will be suitable and patterned between the elements of society, thus it made an overriding influence on his actions. Even though de Koster was on about how the organisation was falling apart, he was always there. He made a choice of sticking with the organisation and acted upon his choices because even though the weather was unfavourable (when it was raining and cold); he made a choice of doing his job. He was in Hillbrow looking for a suspect- John Sithole, instead of being at home sleeping.

This indicates that even though he made choices, his actions were influenced by society’s expectation henceforth this is structure. In order for him to make sense of his actions and choices, he thought of commitment “…you must understand that just because I come to work, doesn’t mean that I do the work. Do it like I used to, I mean. In this game you have to be committed to do it properly, but the commitment isn’t there anymore” (Altbeker, A. 2005:173). His work is really important to him. Even though he felt unhappy and unwanted, he gave it his all to stay sympathetic and loyal to the police service.

He was really dedicated to his work and in that sense, we understood his agency when he took the man from Berea aside, to tell him how important it is to help the police and how he would personally put in a claim for a reward. He made that choice because he really wanted to find John Sithole. He also made a choice of staying hopeful and believing in catching the bad guys out there. This can be seen when the reporter was asking him whether he thought the man would help if he found John Sithole and De Koster’s reply was “we can only hope, miracles do happen” (Altbeker, A. 2005:177).

His positive attitude towards his work existed despite the bitter and unfavourable working conditions. He always showed commitment even when he was expected to be hopeless and downhearted, in addition he stayed at work and acted professionally around his colleagues even though they were not getting along because of racial differences -this is a signal of agency. Interplay of both structure and agency can be seen on the actions of this police officer. He entered into another man’s home and confronted him in his underwear in front of his children, bulling him with the authority of the law and taking him away.

This is a norm in the police department so De Koster’s actions were influenced by structure in this case. He did what he had to do simply because he was expected to. I personally stand with structure in the structure-agency debate because even though agency exists, it is still influenced by structure. The choices we make are somehow influenced by what we see, hear and read about (society and its expectations). De Koster’s actions and choices were shaped by social factors in his working environment.

Yes he made choices, but his actions resulting from those choices were influenced by structure. CONCLUSION From the above mentioned I therefore conclude by agreeing with Giddens (1979) that one cannot not choose between structure and agency, because “they are mutually dependant to each other rather than opposed. Structures are not repressive of the individual’s capacity to act, or agency, but rather provide a means by which individuals act and are also the outcome of those actions. ” (Abercrombie et al, 1988: 245 in Van huyssteen, E. 2003:57).

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