Progress towards the development of a scale for agency -abstract-

Publication type

Conference Paper


BHPS-2007 Conference: the 2007 British Household Panel Survey Research Conference, 5 July -7 July 2007, Colchester, UK


Publication date

June 1, 2007


Individual agency is frequently cited as the reason why those with the
same configurations of structural circumstances might progress along
radically different trajectories. This paper describes progress towards the
development of a scale for agency, understood as the control that an
individual has over their life, using BHPS variables with cross-wave
continuity. Such a measure will facilitate investigation of relationships
between agency and participation in education over the lifecourse.
Following a review of theoretical work on agency, questionnaire items with
apparent purchase on dimensions of agency are examined. These
theoretically informed agency variables were used to model an established
scale for control and autonomy which was included in wave 11 of the
panel. The relative importance of variables tapping into different aspects of
agency within regression models of control and autonomy is presented.
The stability of models for different groups is examined. The factor
structure of a set of retained predictors of control and autonomy is
explored. It is concluded that the dimensions of agency discussed in
theoretical writing are represented in retained variables which account for
half the variance in people’s reported experience of control and autonomy
in their lives.






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