Social agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. Closely related to the sociological concept of structure, social agency is a central ontological issue in environmental studies, political science, sociology, and a variety of other disciplines. Often framed as the battle of socialization versus autonomy, social agency colors theories and arguments related to the causes and effects of many environmental issues, including pollution, sustainability, authoritarianism, and community. Social agency has developed and changed as a theory and has subtly different uses and meanings in different contexts and when used by different theorists. Despite variations in the use of the term, social agency broadly encompasses discussions regarding humans’ ability to act independently. Within the context of environmentalism, ...

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