Agency - Currently no debate

Currently no general definition


Associated practices:
Actor Network Theory - Architecture - Interaction design - Narrative Ecology - Narratology - Sociology

Agency in Actor Network Theory

In actor-network theory, all things – living as well as non-living, human as well as non-human – are endowed with agency.
This means that when we look for the origin/cause of a movement or a stabilised fact, we no longer have to look to just the human faculties (Enlightenment) or a suprapersonal structure (Structuralism/Hylomorphism).
In order to emphasise this shift in how we perceive agency, ANT scholars have developed the neologism of the actant. The actant essentially is what has agency – which should be seen as the ability to (profoundly) change a situation - and it can be anything: a human being, a scallop, a certain know-how, a given technology or a bacteria.

At the limit, agency isn’t even deposited strictly in humans or non-humans but always in whatever groups or networks these might make up.
The network, then, is where heterogeneous corporeal entities (substances) and incorporeal entities (theories, methods, know-how) come together to form a seemingly coherent whole, allowing for each individual member to gain something.

An important point here, is that these networks organise and bundle together other things in order to sustain themselves. They interiorises them. They could not exist without this interiorization of what is essentially exterior to them.

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Agency in Architecture

To grasp what is exactly at stake in current debates, we believe the notion of agency is paramount. In discussions about the architect’s societal position - as autonomous creator, self-interested professional, victim to market forces, resistive agent, ’enabler,’ or ’urban catalyst‘- as much as about the role of the user - as empowered citizen, producer of urban space, ’self-organizing‘ entity or ’everyday bricoleur‘ - the notion of agency is often as fundamental as it is taken for granted. At the same time, recent preoccupations with the material and performative dimension of architecture have led to new ways of understanding agency in architecture.

from this link (accessed 23.11.08)

 


FOOTPRINT Delt School of Design Journal

Issue # 4 | Spring 2009 | Agency in Architecture: Reframing Criticality in Theory and Practice

Whether critiquing the architect’s societal position and the role of the user, conceptualising the performative dimension of the architectural object, or considering the effects of theory for architecture at large, current debates in architecture intersect in the notion of agency. As fundamental as it is often taken for granted, this notion forms the keystone of this issue, inviting contributors to rethink architecture’s specificity, its performance, and its social and political relevance. Agency in architecture inevitably entails questioning the relation between theory and practice, and what it might mean to be critical - both inside and outside architecture - today. The main proposal is to rethink contemporary criticality in architecture, by explicating the notion of agency in three major directions: first, ‘the agency of what?’ or the question of multiplicity and relationality; second, ‘how does it work?’, a question referring to location, mode and vehicle; and third, ‘to what effect?’, bringing up the notion of intentionality.

 

http://www.footprintjournal.org/issues/show/5

accessed 08.11.09 by Tricia

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light house cinema


Agency in Interaction design

The capacity of the user to control, shape or direct the interaction.

Stuart Jones

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Agency in Narrative Ecology

Need definition/argument

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Agency in Narratology

the capacity of an entity to act, to cause events. Characters are typically entities with agency.

(based on: Porter Abbott, H. The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002)

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Actor
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Agency in Sociology

1) The power of actors to operate independently of the determining constraints of social structure. The term agency is related to will and purpose.

2) Any human action, collective or structural or individual, which makes a difference to a human relationships or behaviour.

3) Anthony Giddens interprets agency as being equivalent to power.

All from Jary D. and Jary J. (eds) (2000). Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd Ed. Glasgow: HarperCollins.

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