V. Chirkov (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)

«Human Autonomy in the Context of Globalization: its Preconditions and Consequences»

This presentation will address the role human agency and autonomy plays in the multiplicity - cultural, philosophical, political and economical - of the modern world. First, the distinction between and definition of the concepts ‘autonomy’ and ‘agency’ will be provided. Then, I will demonstrate the increasing role of human agency in the world where people cannot follow any more only the cultural prescriptions of their ancestors, as their surroundings are becoming more and more multicultural, diverse and plural. They need to rely in their actions on their own reasoning about values and priorities to choose from. Human agency which is based on mature autonomy is the answer to this dilemma. The question is what social conditions prepare people better for this agentic functioning? My answer to this question is horizontality, social capital and basic psychological needs support. Based on the theories of social capital, self-determined motivation, and some others I propose a set of hypotheses about the social/cultural conditions that promote and support human autonomy. Several empirical collaborative studies conducted with Canadian and Russian youth regarding their health behaviors and motivation behind them will be analyzed. The main conclusion is that horizontal relations, which are based on the values of trust, equality, tolerance, respect, promotion of individuality and some others are the most conducive toward developing autonomous and agentic people. The implication of these results for general social and economic policy will be discussed.