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- the power of ACTORS to operate independently of the determining constraints of SOCIAL STRUCTURE. The term is intended to convey the volitional, purposive nature of human activity as opposed to its constrained, determined aspects. Although utilized in widely different ways, it is especially central in METHODOLOGICAL INDIVIDUALISM, ETHNOMETHODOLOGY, PHENOMENOLOGY, SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM. The importance of human intention (and possibly also FREE WILL) thus emphasized, places the individual at the centre of any analysis and raises issues of moral choice and political capacity The political problematic is expressed by GOULDNER counterposing ‘man on his back’ with ‘man fighting back’ (1973), but the classic essay is Dawe's (1971) ‘The Two Sociologies’.
- any human action, collective or structural as well as individual, which ‘makes a difference’ to a social outcome; thus, for GIDDENS (1984), agency is equivalent to POWER. In this way Giddens opposes any simple polarization of'S tructure’ and ‘agency’. This is related to his view that STRUCTURE must be seen as ‘enabling’ as well as ‘constraining’ (see also STRUCTURE AND AGENCY, DUALITY OF STRUCTURE).
a civil law contract under which one party, the agent, binds himself to perform specified legal acts, such as acquisition of property or making payments, in the name and on the account of another party, the principal.
In the USSR, a contract of agency is one of the legal means to secure participation by citizens and organizations in civil turnover, such as conclusion of deals, through the assistance of other persons. The agent’s performance of legal acts with respect to third persons is based on his being given power of attorney. The principal is obligated to pay the agent a fee if this is provided for by law or the contract.