Position exchange: the social development of agency.
New ideas in psychology, 30
Human agency can be defined in terms of acting independently of the immediate situation. Humans have a considerable independence from immediate situational demands because, on the one hand, they are able to distanciate from ongoing activity and reflect upon it, while on the other hand, they are able to identify with other people in different situations. It is argued that this form of agency arises through intersubjectivity because intersubjectivity enables the actor to take a perspective outside of the immediate situation and thus extricating the actor from the immediate situation. The paper contributes to the question of how intersubjectivity, as the basis of agency, develops. Explanations from phenomenology, child development and mirror neuron research are critically reviewed and the novel idea of position exchange is advanced. The paper concludes by examining some of the implications of position exchange for our understanding of the development of agency focusing upon mirror neurons, role play and autism.
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