Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds

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9780674815667: Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds
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This landmark book addresses the central problem in anthropological theory today: the paradox that humans are products of social discipline yet producers of remarkable improvisation.

Synthesizing theoretical contributions by Vygotsky, Bakhtin and Bourdieu, Holland and her co-authors examine the processes by which people are constituted as agents as well as subjects of culturally constructed, socially imposed worlds. They develop a theory of self-formation in which identities become the pivot between discipline and agency: turning from experiencing one's scripted social positions to making one's way into cultural worlds as a knowledgeable and committed participant. They emphasize throughout that "identities" are not static and coherent, but variable, multivocal and interactive.

Ethnographic illumination of this complex theoretical construction comes from vividly described fieldwork in vastly different microcultures: American college women "caught" in romance; persons in U.S. institutions of mental health care; members of Alcoholics Anonymous groups; and girls and women in the patriarchal order of Hindu villages in central Nepal.

Ultimately, Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds offers a liberating yet tempered understanding of agency, for it shows how people, across the limits of cultural traditions and social forces of power and domination, improvise and find spaces to re-describe themselves, creating their cultural worlds anew.

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About the Author:

Dorothy Holland is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Review:

Inventive and interdisciplinary...an excellent volume that deserves a wide readership and will be of considerable interest to a number of psychology's researchers, theorists, practitioners, students, and subdisciplines.
--Mark A. Adams (Contemporary Psychology)

(A) clear and informative account of how people reshape their sense of self, negotiate their cultural or "figured" world, and rebel against social norms The ethnographic examples include the efforts of undergraduate women to navigate the world of romance; the contested plights of women, especially lower-caste women in Nepal; creating an Alcoholics Anonymous identity by telling the right sort of narrative about one's life; the struggles to survive of persons suffering from mental disorders...Recommended at all levels.
--J.R. Bowen (Choice)

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9780674005624: Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds

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ISBN 10:  0674005627 ISBN 13:  9780674005624
Publisher: Harvard University Press, 2001
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Dorothy Holland; William Lachicotte Jr.; Debra Skinner; Carole Cain; Carol Cain
Published by Harvard University Press (1998)
ISBN 10: 0674815661 ISBN 13: 9780674815667
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Book Description Harvard University Press, 1998. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0674815661

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