Tag: agency

Why do people do what they do? It is a question at the heart of the human sciences but it is also one we ask in everyday life. However the way we ask it often tracks our prior feelings towards the people we ask it of. For instance, as Jana Bacevic has argued, many fail […]

Ever since I was a philosophy student, I’ve been interested in how we conceptualise individuals and groups. The two are connected in my mind because, if groups are composed of individuals, our concept of individuals is going to condition our concept of groups and vice versa. However discussion at this level of abstraction can seem […]

This looks like a very interesting panel: We are looking for a few additional people who might be interested in contributing to an AoIR panel exploring critical questions and issues surrounding algorithmic agency, power and publics. Researchers and media commentators alike are seemingly fascinated with the magic-like and opaque properties of algorithms. Algorithms are touted […]

I’m very interested in the way ‘laziness’ now tends to be used to describe procrastination: it’s often a loaded term to covey that someone is driven by their own interests rather than institutional ones. Here’s an example of what I mean, from Misbehaving, by Richard Thaler, pg xiii: The interview started. Hearing a friend tell an […]

Another startlingly illuminating point in Retrieving Realism by Dreyfus and Taylor. At loc 665, they observe how Heidegger’s early work “undercuts another basic feature of the classical picture: that the primary input is neutral, and is only at a later stage attributed some meaning by the agent.” This is a familiar point but I’ve never […]

 Zygmunt Bauman in Liquid Surveillance, pg 64: By definition, the idea of ‘transition’ stands for a finite process, a time- span with clearly drawn starting and finishing lines – a passage from a spatial, temporal, or spatial and temporal, ‘here’ to a ‘there’; but these are precisely the attributes denied to the condition of ‘being […]

Acceleration is often framed as a problem. Things are speeding up. We never have enough time. We’re always falling behind. These will be familiar experiences to most. While the problem is more complex than may initially appear to be the case, with little quantitative time squeeze actually registering, it nonetheless leaves us with a sense of late modernity […]

As anyone who reads my blog regularly might have noticed, I’m a fan of Colin Crouch’s notion of post-democracy. I’ve interviewed him about it a couple of times: once in 2010 and again in 2013. Whereas he’d initially offered the notion to illuminate a potential trajectory, in the sense that we risk becoming post-democratic, we more latterly see a social […]

The notion of microfoundations emerged from within Marxist theory as a claim that “macro explanations of social phenomena must be supported by an account of the mechanisms at the individual level through which the postulated social processes work” (Little 1991: 196). I first encountered this idea on Daniel Little’s blog Understanding Society and I’ve started […]

I read an interesting paper by Ros Gill earlier which nicely frames one of my main theoretical interests. It’s a reflection on shifting fashions in how the relationship between culture and subjectivity has been conceptualised within cultural studies. This bit in particular caught my attention and the clarity with which it diagnoses this common explanatory […]

Neoliberalism thoroughly revises what it means to be a human person.Classical liberalism identified “labor” as the critical original human infusion that both created and justified private property. Foucault correctly identifies the concept of “human capital” as the signal neoliberal departure that undermines centuries of political thought that parlayed humanism into stories of natural rights. Not only […]

In the previous few posts on Being Human, part of a broader project to blog thematic overviews of all Margaret Archer’s major books, I’ve been looking at her account of the emotions. This is absolutely integral to her understanding of reflexivity, it’s covered in less depth in the reflexivity books and, unless it’s understood, it’s easy […]

This is the second of four posts in which I’ll explore the modes of reflexivity which are so integral to the argument Archer makes in The Reflexive Imperative. Underlying these concepts is an understanding of social morphogenesis as leading to the ‘situational logic of opportunity’ given the generative mechanism of variety to produce more variety. The arguments […]

One important objection to the notion of ‘internal conversation’ rests on a broader trend within contemporary social theory that is concerned with the possibility that theoretical claims about agency lead proponents to make claims about agents which are empirically inadequate. So too that these ensuing claims might find themselves implicated, knowingly or otherwise, in broader […]