Agency is the capacity for freedom of action despite the social structures. It is a kind of ownership within the structure of an organization. Structures are the social forces and constraints that affect our lives. In this article, Winsor explores the art of using writing to structure agency based on an examination of engineers’ practice.
This study is based on a longitudinal study of four engineers. The engineers have moved into positions of responsibility and authority that have allowed them to claim agency within the organizations where they work. Three key ideas have been used to develop the study in order to structure agency through writing. They include agency and social intersection, text and agency and agency arising from position.
Agency and Positions
Engineering as career enables people to acquire positions of authority and responsibility. The article has an elaborate story about four engineers who had been observed over a period of time as they excelled in the engineering field. They were able to climb the ladder of excellence as they moved to positions of responsibility and authority. The positions provided socially structured opportunities for agency. That is to say that they were able to use their status effectively. The four engineers gained social structures through their positions in order to be agents. In this context, the function and the power of an engineer in these positions result to agency. Winsor says, ‘they have moved into positions of greater responsibility and authority, which in some ways, seem to be socially structured opportunities for agency’. Agency is therefore seen to arise from positions.
Agency and Social intersection
Social intersection provides an environment to create agency. This is because agency does not come automatically, but the individual effort is vital in defining agency. It is also important to note that structure is never complete without the social effort of the engineers. Access to authority and responsibility empowers engineers so that they can be felt by people. A scholar called Law also describes further the concept of social intersection. He says, ‘Life is never structured as we might fantasize it to be’. Rather the positions gave the study participants access to tools they could use more or less well to enact intent’. The individual functioning within a structure maintains or changes it in different ways. Through this, agency is created.
Text and Agency
The article narrates that most of the tools that the four engineers used were textual. They used texts as a means to put their socially structured intentions into effect. Anderson supported this idea. He says, ‘…the participants had to use texts to suggest that the structure was shaped to favor their capacity to act as agents’. In other words, the engineers operated in structures that had been expressed in texts. Engineers became agents and authors within the texts that had been written. This was either done by others or themselves. They functioned as authors by writing texts that showed their actions. Texts were also used to suggest that the structure was shaped to favor the engineers’ capacity to act as agents. Authorship was then connected with agency. Good writing was defined as that which accomplished goals that they derived from their work but felt as their own.
In conclusion, agency can be created from positions. It can also be formed by social intersection of the engineers. The article has proved that texts are vital tools to form agency. Therefore with examination of engineers’ practice, we can use writing to structure agency.