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A Neo-Meadian approach to human agency: relating the social and the psychological in the ontogenesis of perspective-coordinating persons

By Jack Martin and Alex Gillespie


How can human agency be reconciled with bio-physical determinism? Starting with a discussion of the long standing debate between determinism and agency, we argue that the seeds of a reconciliation can be found in George Herbert Mead’s ideas concerning social acts, perspectives, differentiation, self-other interactivity, and conscious understanding. Drawing on more recent reformulations of Mead’s ideas, we present an integrated account of the ontogenesis of human agency. Human agency, we argue, should be conceptualized in terms of distanciation from immediate experience, and we show how social interactions, institutions and symbolic resources foster the development of agency in increasingly complex ways. We conclude by situating our work in relation to other developmental accounts and the larger project of theorizing and empirically supporting a compatibilist rendering of human agency as the “determined” self-determination of persons

Topics: BF Psychology, H Social Sciences (General)
Publisher: Springer
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s12124-010-9126-7
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

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