“Transformative agency” as an object of sociological analysis: Contemporary discussions and the role of education

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Negative trends of the global social-economic development enhanced by the covid-19 pandemic explain the theoretical and practical relevance of the study of perspectives for structural transformations and their possible sources. In education, this means the need to improve the existing models of institutional practice and to contribute to the development of ‘agency’ that would support positive transformations in all domains of social life. The scientific attention to ‘agency’ and its transformative potential in relation to ‘structures’ is still limited compared to the issues of structures’ reproduction. The so-called ‘new institutionalists’ in sociology (including primarily J.W. Meyer and his followers) provide a promising basis for new theoretical models and empirical studies of the content, factors and effects of ‘transformative agency’. Meyer’s core idea is that social structures can both suppress and support the initiative formation of new social entities and the corresponding new values and modes of action. Further research in education should refer to the concepts of ‘institutional entrepreneurship’, ‘institutional work’ and ‘expanded actorhood’, when using the proposed theoretical framework to empirically study (1) globally and nationally promoted initiatives in entrepreneurship education in universities, and (2) processes of transformation of institutional contexts in education under the continuing global pandemic with an emphasis on the proactive role of students.

About the authors

P. S. Sorokin

HSE University

Author for correspondence.
Email: psorokin@hse.ru
Potapovsky Per., 16-10, Moscow, 101000, Russia


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