What Is Agency?1

  title={What Is Agency?1},
  author={Mustafa Emirbayer and Ann Mische},
  journal={American Journal of Sociology},
  pages={962 - 1023}
This article aims (1) to analytically disaggregate agency into its several component elements (though these are interrelated empirically), (2) to demonstrate the ways in which these agentic dimensions interpenetrate with forms of structure, and (3) to point out the implications of such a conception of agency for empirical research. The authors conceptualize agency as a temporally embedded process of social engagement, informed by the past (in its “iterational” or habitual aspect) but also… 

Expanding the Notion of Agency: Introducing Grit as an Additional Facet of Agency

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Making Time: Agency and the Construction of Temporal Experience

In this note, I conceptualize four models of causal processes that govern various dimensions of temporal experience. The e rst is classic determinism, while the other three are variations on the

Human Agency at Work: Towards a Clarification and Operationalisation of the Concept

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Agency Across the Life Course

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Time, Self, and the Curiously Abstract Concept of Agency*

The term “agency” is quite slippery and is used differently depending on the epistemological roots and goals of scholars who employ it. Distressingly, the sociological literature on the concept

Agency as conversion process

Its importance for understanding social dynamics notwithstanding, the concept of agency is one of sociology’s more controversial ideas. The debate around this concept has mostly been developed at a

In the Loop: A Realist Approach to Structure and Agency in the Practice of Strategy

This paper introduces and illustrates a critical realist approach to the practice of strategy, combining Archer’s stratified ontology for structure, culture and agency with her work on reflexivity,

Relational agency

  • I. Burkitt
  • Sociology
    Research Handbook of Sustainability Agency
  • 2021
This article explores how the concept of agency in social theory changes when it is conceptualized as a relational rather than an individual phenomenon. It begins with a critique of the

Coordinating Futures: Toward a Theory of Anticipation1

This article presents a theoretical approach for studying the coordination of futures. Building off theories of temporality and action, the authors map three different modes of future



A Theory of Structure: Duality, Agency, and Transformation

  • W. Sewell
  • Economics
    American Journal of Sociology
  • 1992
"Structure" is one of the most important, elusive, and undertheorized concepts in the social sciences. Setting out from a critique and reformulation of Anthony Giddens's notion of the duality of

Manifesto for a Relational Sociology1

Sociologists today are faced with a fundamental dilemma: whether to conceive of the social world as consisting primarily in substances or processes, in static "things" or in dynamic, unfolding

Transcending General Linear Reality

This paper argues that the dominance of linear models has led many sociologists to construe the social world in terms of a "general linear reality." This reality assumes (1) that the social world

Network Analysis, Culture, and the Problem of Agency

Network analysis is one of the most promising currents in sociological research, and yet it has never been subjected to a theoretically informed assessment and critique. This article outlines the

The New Institutionalism: Organizational Factors in Political Life

Contemporary theories of politics tend to portray politics as a reflection of society, political phenomena as the aggregate consequences of individual behavior, action as the result of choices based

Culture and Agency: The Place of Culture in Social Theory

People are inescapably shaped by the culture in which they live, while culture itself is made and remade by people. Human beings in their daily lives feel a genuine freedom of thought and belief, yet

Social Theory, Social Research, and a Theory of Action

  • J. Coleman
  • Psychology
    American Journal of Sociology
  • 1986
After an extraordinarily promising beginning in 1937 with The Structure of Social Action, Talcott Parsons abandoned his attempt to ground social theory in a theory of purposive action. The

Frame alignment processes, micromobilization, and movement participation.

This paper attempts to further theoretical and empirical understanding of adherent and constituent mobilization by proposing and analyzing frame alignment as a conceptual bridge linking social

The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis

Long a fruitful area of scrutiny for students of organizations, the study of institutions is undergoing a renaissance in contemporary social science. This volume offers, for the first time, both

Time, human agency, and social change: perspectives on the life course

The life course has emerged over the past 30 years as a major research paradigm. Distinctive themes include the relation between human lives and a changing society, the timing of lives, linked or