Article

Agency

Lois McNay

in The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory

Published in print February 2016 | ISBN: 9780199328581
Published online April 2015 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199328581.013.2

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Agency

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • Political Behaviour

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

This chapter traces key developments in feminist thought on agency through an underlying tension between the descriptive and normative senses of the term. Feminist theories of agency as relational autonomy displace problematic ideas of sovereignty yet remain entangled in a problematic prescriptivism about the different ways women choose to lead their lives. This adjudicative agenda is overcome in feminist theories of agency as resistance that are grounded in less prescriptive ideas of emancipatory action as subversion from within. These, in turn, are subject to the criticism that resistance is a peculiarly Western preoccupation that leads to the ethnocentric discounting of other types of active agency where women in nonsecular societies create meaningful identities for themselves within, not against, the dominant cultural norms. The chapter goes on to consider how some theorists have sought to bypass the normative dilemmas that accompany the cross-cultural analysis of agency.

Keywords: agency; gender; relational autonomy; resistance; critique; postidentity; posthuman; neoliberalism

Article.  10882 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Political Behaviour

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.