Agency and collective action

Projekter: ProjektForskning



The aim of the agency project is to advance the understanding of the connection between the human mind-brain and human behaviour by exploring the interplay between experienced and performative agency in real-life interactions and experimental settings. Agency is going to be studied within the context of collective action and joint decision-making, thus bringing together within the same conceptual framework a long-standing interest in agency within the discipline of anthropology and a current cross-disciplinary focus on collective action.
Description of work
Agency will be analysed from a dual perspective: on the one hand there is an analytic focus on the subjective construction of agency and intentionality on the basis of cultural models, social experience, and memory; on the other hand the project seeks to identify factors that limit and facilitate performative agency in
various social contexts of change, stability and abnormality.
The collective action problem in political unstable settings is one main focus. Investigating the significance of transmitted memories of the past and religious identities on collective violence, this part of the project seeks an understanding of the importance of agency in processes of social transformations, especially in the context of crisis and structural constraint. On the basis of fieldwork and experimental methods the project aims at developing a novel account of joint action and decision making, which represents an alternative to the dominant, oppositional approaches to agency and collective action in economics and political science (rational choice theory), on the one hand, and in psychology (emotions and bodily imitation) on the other hand.
Developmental perspective on cognition. This part of the agency project explores masquerade and cognition in infants. It studies children’s acquisition of religious concepts and action understanding in the context of masked rituals.
Agency and holism, agency and time. Based on long-term fieldwork in Melanesia this part of the project investigates how agency relates to and emerges through symbolically significant language use and serves as a means of reproducing and changing local cultural worlds.
The project involves (1) laboratory experiments at Aarhus University; (2) 4-5 periods of fieldwork (twomonths duration in average), including fieldwork equipment, such as cameras and video, and the employment of a number of local research assistants (in West Africa, Melanesia, China and Mauritius); (3)
language courses.
Effektiv start/slut dato01/10/200931/12/2013


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