The chapter considers readings of Karl Marx first as a theorist of structure and then as a theorist of agency. It demonstrates that neither approach can offer a coherent understanding of the social world or a consistent exposition of Marx's own position. The chapter examines the concepts of fetishism and alienation, to show their centrality to Marx's project and their relevance to the structure-agency 'debate'. The chapter also examines three key topics from capital namely: the commodity, work and primitive accumulation. It also demonstrates that they can be understood more coherently in the original than as the products of either social structure or individual action. The chapter discusses some ways in which Marx's theoretical framework might be useful as a corrective to contemporary sociological concerns. Commodity exchange is nothing new or unique to capitalist social organisation. In feudal societies things were exchanged and, more importantly, things were produced for exchange.
The structure-and-agency 'problem' is too readily accepted as providing a crystallisation of the nodal issues in sociological theory. The articulation of the interrelationship between agency and structure within a unifying scheme is considered by many leading theorists to be the central task of contemporary theory. This chapter deals with gross and prominent misrepresentations of agency positions. These caricatures of agency are being used feloniously in the demarcation of distinct sociological traditions. One problematic domain of the agency argument for structuralists is what they understand agency proponents to be advancing when they articulate ideas of the 'construction', 'achievement' or 'accomplishment' of social reality. In particular, contemporary arguments distort the characteristics of the relevant theories associated with 'agency', such as methodological individualism, interactionism and phenomenologies, as well as crucial arguments in Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons.
The countries of the developed West are fighting a war on terror. Public attention to terrorism serves important domestic constituencies. Public attention to terrorism also serves the interests of politicians, especially incumbents. The only question that needs to be asked, from terrorist's point of view, is whether the attacks serve or set back the general cause on whose behalf they are launched. The moral reflection looks at relevant empirical evidence and also at other, less difficult moral questions or decisions that may be analogous or related in some way to the problem at hand. Thomas Pogge argues that the terrorists have made no serious attempt to engage in religious discourse about what God commands in relation to killing and harming innocent human beings. Most of the harm the terrorists inflicted on innocent people was not necessary for promoting the alleged good they sought and quite possibly even counter-productive.