Struggle in Society With the Help of Political Science

I firsthand can attest to this harsh reality. Without a scholarship I have received from the U.S. Army, I would not have been able to attend Boston College, since my family and I could not have afforded the high price of tuition. Without that scholarship, I would have had limited agency in deciding what university to attend. This, by the way, doesn’t even begin to elaborate on the structural processes found within the college admission process, which also limits the agency of students when they wish to go to college or university.

Boston College course offerings in the Political Science department are another example of the struggle of agency and structure in our society. Boston College would have political science students believe that when they come to BC, they can choose to take a wide array of classes offered by the political science department. However, the structure of our academic system, in actuality, limits the number of courses a regular student can take.

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At Boston College, there exists a shortage of political science professors for the number of majors at the university, which limits the number of classes offered to students looking for classes. With this shortage present, there is greater inherent demand for political science courses, which means that most political science courses fill up relatively quickly, as seniors, juniors, and sophomores with early registration times fill the available courses. Furthermore, when deciding between political science classes, students must factor in the times the political science classes are available, because they must also plan around the other non-political science classes in other departments they plan to take that semester.

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This example of a freshman political science student should help qualify the limits of agency in place at Boston College based on its inherent structure. Let’s say there are ten political science professors who each teach three courses in political science. If that student had complete agency, they would be able to take any of the thirty courses offered within the political science department. However, because of the external factors in the societal structure (high demand for classes, late pick time, scheduling conflicts with other classes, etc.), the system reduces what would be thirty course offerings to just one course offering. Due to existing societal structures, political science students have limited agency in choosing courses.

The conflict of structure and agency can also be seen on a larger scale within the current United States health care system. The U.S. health care system is unique, because unlike most other advanced industrialized countries, it does not have a universal health care program for its citizens. The U.S. does not have a uniform health system, has no universal health care coverage, and only recently under the Obama administration did it enact legislation mandating healthcare coverage for almost everyone. In the United States, health care facilities are largely owned and operated by private sector businesses which, non-profit or not, still are expected to be run with the intent of making a profit. Most health care, even if financed by the government, is delivered by private businesses. These private businesses control the means of production for health care, and can charge ridiculous rates knowing that people have to pay for it. Instead of treating health care like a public service, the United States treats health care as a commodity, which has harsh repercussions for the working class.

With the existing structure that is in place, millions of Americans suffer from uneven coverage. Americans with below-average incomes are much more likely than their counterparts in other countries to report not visiting a physician when sick, getting a recommended test or follow-up care, or even seeing a dentist, all because these actions would cost extra money not covered by private insurance policies, meaning people would have to pay outrageous fees which would cost them extra money. The existing structure limits a sick individual’s agency, and forces them to make a tough choice of rolling the dice on their health and well-being in order to survive. So, while the majority of U.S. citizens have health insurance, the premiums for insurance are rising and the quality of insurance policies is falling, as private businesses continue to extract as much surplus value from the system as they can. When health care is seen as a commodity, millions of people suffer.

The limits of agency based on structure are all to prevalent in our society. Every day, individuals sacrifice their autonomy in order to conform to established societal structures, most of which have been in place before any of us were born. Marx critique of current capitalist society is spot on, as he successfully identifies many of the problems capitalism poses to the working class. The proletariat is constantly exploited by the Bourgeoise for surplus value, which doesn’t benefit the working class in any way. As our society continues to become more productive and efficient, that extra surplus value continues to make the ruling class richer, furthering widening the gap between the haves and have nots. This capitalist system, despite what society would like us to believe, limits the working class’ agency, and perpetually subjects them to working conditions and quality of lives that pale in comparison to the ruling class.

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Struggle in Society With the Help of Political Science. (2022, Jun 05). Retrieved from

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