Dorothy Holland
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William Lachicotte✝
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(4,956 words)

This entry maps recent research in the social sciences and to a lesser extent in philosophy and psychology about human agency. It identifies central topics, such as theories of everyday agency, culturally distinctive discourses and models of agency, cultural worlds as contexts for agency, and the entanglement of agency with power. It situates developments in the actor-centered approaches emerging with practice theory. Lastly, building on previous efforts to make sense of the welter of definitions of “agency,” it argues that studies of agency have tended to coalesce around two concerns: one addressed to “everyday agency,” or the  capacity to have effects in the world, and the other, to “transformative agency,” or the capacity to have effects on the world. ⸙

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