Bringing Agency Back into Network Research: Constrained Agency and Network Action
Pp. 73-93 in Research in the Sociology of Organizations, vol. 40, edited by D. J. Brass, G. Labianca, A. Mehra, D. S. Halgin, and S. P. Borgatti: Emerald Group Publishing, 2014
Posted: 17 Jul 2013 Last revised: 26 Jul 2015
Date Written: December 1, 2014
We propose a framework of constrained agency grounded in the actors’ resources and motivations within their structurally constrained context. Structural positions influence the resources available to actors and color the motivations that shape their actions. Resources equip actors to exert agency, while motivations propel them to do so. We derive a typology of network actions and illustrate how the form of constrained agency through which a particular network action is taken can affect actors’ ensuing structural positions and the nature of the constraints they subsequently face. Our conceptualization of constrained agency identifies new sources of endogenous change in network structure.
Keywords: structure, agency, social networks
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