Understanding Agency

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Overview

In this penetrating and assured book, one of the leading commentators in the field argues that social theory is moving in the wrong direction in its reflections on human freedom and autonomy. It has borrowed notions of 'agency' and 'choice' from everyday discourse, but increasingly it puts a misconceived individualistic gloss upon them. Against this, Barnes unequivocally identifies human beings as social agents in a profound sense, and emphasises the vital importance of their sociability. Notions of 'agency', 'freedom' and 'choice' have to be understood by reference to their role in communicative interaction; they are key components of the discourse through which human beings identify each other, and have effects upon each other, as soci

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761963684
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 11/1/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Barnes is professor of Sociology at the University of Exeter.

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Table of Contents

PART ONE: MATERIALS AND ARGUMENTS
Everyday Discourse
'Choice' and 'Agency' in Social Theory
A Brief Digression on Attribution
On Individualism in Social Theory
Transcending Individualism
PART TWO: SPECULATIONS AND EVALUATIONS
'Agency' and 'Responsibility' in Sociological Theory
Agency, Responsibility and New Human Biotechnologies
Rational Agents in Differentiated Societies
On the Fine Line between State and Status

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