OVERSIKTSART

AGENCY, ORDER, AND HETERONOMY

Published: 21 Mar 2017
Summary:

Constructivist theories have produced a wealth of insights about the dynamics by which social facts shape actors’ identities and how distinct logics of action are at work in upholding and producing particular orders. Reviewing this literature, I argue that the normsoriented scholarship has failed also on its own terms in that it has tailored different logics of action to the task of explaining particular political orders rather than agency proper. These norm-centred accounts present themselves as agent-oriented, but subsume the exploration of agency within an account of the micro-level foundation for a norm-anchored order. In lieu of such a perspective, I unearth one key insight from Richard Ashley and treat agency as an achievement. It is an effort to balance external forces in such a way as to achieve a semblance of agency or control. This view of agency is, I think, implicit in Kratochwil and Onuf’s work on rules. I explicate this view and demonstrate how it offers better tools with which to explore the historically changing conditions within which actors seek to present themselves as proper agents and to shape any given order, which cannot be reduced to, or subsumed within, any particular logic of action.

  • Published year: 2016
  • DOI: 10.3224/eris.v3i3.27343
  • Language: Engelsk
  • Pages: 63 - 75
  • Volume: 3
  • Booklet: 3
  • Journal: European review of international studies