Towards a Diagnostic Toolkit for the Language of Agency

Abigail W. Konopasky*, Kimberly M. Sheridan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT: Agency—broadly, the capacity to produce effects—is a critical aspect of human activity, yet its multifaceted character makes analysis difficult. Drawing from functional linguistics, we propose a linguistic toolkit for analyzing the degree to which and manner in which speakers represent themselves as acting intentionally and autonomously. After a brief review of relevant agency literature, we propose three sets of grammatical tools, demonstrating their efficacy with a brief case study of 4 adult secondary learners’ educational narratives. We find that our toolkit offers insight both across contexts within an individual and across individuals in a single context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-123
Number of pages16
JournalMind, Culture, and Activity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


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