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Chapter 15 - Agency As the Direction and Reach of Actions

A Theoretical Outline

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 November 2023

Nick Hopwood
Affiliation:
University of Technology, Sydney
Annalisa Sannino
Affiliation:
Tampere University, Finland
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Summary

We need theories that help us join the struggle for alternative futures. Cultural-historical approaches frame agency as something people do rather than something they have or sense. Building on this, I conceptualise agency in terms of the direction and reach of actions. Direction concerns movement from distinctive subject positionings towards desired endpoints. Reach concerns the extent of this movement. Direction and reach can be both outward (transforming the world) and inward (transforming the self). This acknowledges individuals’ contributions to changing their own lives and those of others without evacuating actions from the activities in which they are embedded. Motive, mediation, and motion are key to this. I illustrate these ideas in relation to existing research on young people’s environmental activism, a Latino boy in foster care, and a mother struggling to care for her infant child, as well as examples from prior research and other chapters in this volume.

Type
Chapter
Information
Agency and Transformation
Motives, Mediation, and Motion
, pp. 355 - 382
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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