Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 25 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces key developments in feminist thought on agency through an underlying tension between the descriptive and normative senses of the term. Feminist theories of agency as relational autonomy displace problematic ideas of sovereignty yet remain entangled in a problematic prescriptivism about the different ways women choose to lead their lives. This adjudicative agenda is overcome in feminist theories of agency as resistance that are grounded in less prescriptive ideas of emancipatory action as subversion from within. These, in turn, are subject to the criticism that resistance is a peculiarly Western preoccupation that leads to the ethnocentric discounting of other types of active agency where women in nonsecular societies create meaningful identities for themselves within, not against, the dominant cultural norms. The chapter goes on to consider how some theorists have sought to bypass the normative dilemmas that accompany the cross-cultural analysis of agency.

Keywords: agency, gender, relational autonomy, resistance, critique, postidentity, posthuman, neoliberalism

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.