Conceptualising and measuring agency using the British Household Panel Survey

Publication type

Conference Paper


BERA-2006 Annual Conference: the 2006 British Educational Research Association Conference, 6-9 September 2006, University of Warwick


Publication date

June 1, 2006


The concept of agency is of central concern to the Learning Lives project. The project aims to understand the relationship between adult learning and agency over the life course in terms of how learning impacts on agency and, conversely, how agency impacts on learning. The project approaches learning as one of the ways in which people respond to events in their lives, often to gain more control over their lives. To further these aims it is necessary to critically evaluate whether empirical evidence supports or disputes theoretical connections between agency and adult learning. However, as outlined below, agency is a rather broad and elusive latent concept. This paper takes a preliminary step in this direction as its purpose is to characterise one major aspect of the self’s agency, self-efficacy, using items (questions) from the British Household Panel Study (BHPS). Furthermore, this paper illustrates the application of Latent Class Analysis, a powerful new tool in the analysis of typologies and scale response patterns from categorically scored survey data using the LEM software programme.






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