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Social And Historical Trajectories Of Agency In Africa

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Chapter Summary

Over the past four decades, all the major social-science paradigms from structuralism to Marxism, world-systems theory and globalization that sought to explain the predicament of African societies in terms of structure have been countered and critiqued by perspectives that emphasized human creativity and resilience. One of the important contributions of the agency perspective to the academic understanding of social change in Africa has been its capacity to explode often victimizing approaches. In this chapter, this approach is taken as a challenge to a situation that developed around the year 2000 when African pessimism became a dominant perspective in much of the international development literature. It develops an alternative interpretation of Africa's predicament by emphasizing the strengths of people, organizations and institutions in overcoming the constraining structures that are present in the everyday lives of many Africans today.

Keywords: Africa; globalization; international development literature; social-science paradigms



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