Understanding Agency: Social Theory and Responsible Action

Sage (2000)
Is human freedom and choice exaggerated in recent social theory? Should agency be the central in sociology? In this, penetrating and assured book, one of the leading commentators in the field asks where social theory is going. Barnes argues that social theory has taken the wrong turn in over-stating individual freedom. The result is that social contexts in which all individual actions are situated, is dangerously under-theorized. Barnes calls for a form of social theory that recognizes that sociability is the essential characteristic of human life. It is our capacity to communicate with each other, and plan for each other’s welfare, that makes us truly human. Once this is allowed, notions of “agency”, “freedom”, and “choice” lose their connotation with free-floating individualism. Instead the embedded character of agency is starkly revealed. This is a model of well-informed and balanced analysis. It will be of interest to students of sociology, philosophy and social theory.
Keywords Responsibility  Agent (Philosophy  Sociology Philosophy
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Call number BJ1451.B355 2000
ISBN(s) 0761963685   0761963677   9780761963684
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Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen (2012). Autonomy and Objectivity of Science. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (3):309-334.

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