Anthony Altbeker tells the story of police officer ‘Fats’ Makaye in chapter twelve of his book, “The Dirty Work of Democracy”. Fats’ attitude toward his role and occupation of being a South African police officer is one of disillusionment, detachment, disenchantment; he is also a very negative man who is highly unmotivated. Although these may be Makaye’s attitudes to his job, they do not always support his actions. It will be shown in this essay how the sociological concepts of structure and agency allow us to understand Makaye’s attitude to his job and why he engages in the actions that he does. The implications of this on the “structure-agency” debate will also be discussed.
The structure-agency debate is a debate surrounding the question:…show more content… 2013 :3), and to what extent do we use agency to shape our biographies (Van Huyssteen, E. 2003 :56 ). Structure is a complex framework of social groups, institutions, culture and processes that make up a society, and within which people create relationships and interact with each other (Van Huyssteen, E. 2003 :56). Structure refers to how these social forces affect our daily lives. In the case of Fats Makaye, the social force that affects his life is the apartheid era and the apartheid system. Even though Altbeker’s interview with Makaye takes place almost over a decade after the coming of democracy in South Africa, Makaye still feels the effects of the oppressive system. He feels that because of his ascribed status, given to him involuntarily at birth (Kendall, D. 2013 :21), of being a black, South African man, he is being held back in his profession and is unable to increase his achieved status, which is voluntary (Kendall, D. 2013 :21), in this profession. I think that Makaye does…show more content… Agency is a persons ability to think, behave and act independently. As stated before fats is a negative and unmotivated man however he is still committed to his job and is able to perform and do the job at hand and most importantly act and behave appropriately when necessary. Although Makaye’s social identity, his identity that is shaped by society (Giddens, A. 2001 :54), dictates that because of his strong build, he is a man of violence and corruption. We see that this is not in fact the case at all, as he states “ it would never happen around me”(Altbeker, 2005 :209) . Instead we see that Makaye stays up all night to catch 12 criminals and he also cares for a pregnant woman who has been assaulted (Altbeker, 2005 :203). Makaye depicts agency through the fact that he has been committed to the South African police force for 30 years (Altbeker, 2005 :204). Although he was recruited involuntarily (Altbeker, 2005 :210) by the force, he still accepts his social role, those characteristics associated with his role of being a police officer (Kendall, D. 2013 :25) and even the hardships of being seen as a traitor during the apartheid times (Altbeker, 2005 :210). Makaye also excercises agency by stating that, he and his fellow police officers are lone wolves by explaining that “no one can know [them] like they know [themselves]” (Altbeker, 2005 :205).We can therefore see how agency also contributes to