Agency and Collective action - MINDLab


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Agency and Collective Action


Coordinator: Christian Kordt Højbjerg
Department of Culture and Society - Section for Anthropology and Ethnography

Arts, Aarhus University

The aim of the Agency project is to explore the interplay between experienced and performative agency in real-life interactions (Højbjerg 2006) and experimental settings (Frith 2002). This is crucial for understanding human behavior, both under normal conditions, during phases of social and cultural transition (Otto & Pedersen 2005), and in a number of pathological conditions, which are characterized by abnormal perceptions and ascriptions of agency (e.g. autism and schizophrenia).

Agency will be analyzed from a dual perspective: on the one hand an analytic focus on the subjective construction of agency and intentionality on the basis of cultural models, social experience, and memory (Højbjerg 2007); on the other hand, the project aims to identify factors that limit and facilitate performative agency in various social contexts of change, stability and abnormality. In collaboration with the Interacting Minds project, this project already studies perceived and performed agency in behavioral and neurocognitive experiments (Roepstorff & Frith 2004). This will further be extended to clinical situations, in collaboration with Affective Disorders, Addiction and Psychosis and the Ischemia, Plasticity and Neurorehabilitation projects. This project further combines its experimental work with field-based studies by Ton Otto on changes in perceived and performed agency in real-life interaction. This will be applied to field-work based studies of disturbed agency perception, e.g. in autism. MINDLab has recruited Dr. Phil., Ph.D. Christian Højberg in a five year research position.

This subproject aims at explaining the ascription of agency and action motivation in particular sociocultural contexts in collaboration with the Religion, Cognition and Culture project and inspired by findings in the Cognition and Memory Stream. This focus may transpose laboratory experiments into the field, thus complementing fieldwork based anthropology to advance a general understanding of human agency and cognition ‘in the wild’.


Name             E-mail             


Christian Kordt Højbjerg   8716 2164
Ton Otto


8716 2113

Andreas Roepstorff   8716 2124
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Revised 7-5-2012