The Agency Fallacy

It often frustrates me to hear that given that I’ve ‘made it others from similar backgrounds have no excuse to fail’. I refer to this as the agency fallacy: the idea that poor people fail chiefly because of indolence and indiscipline. It absolves the society of any responsibility. It ignores historical and current injustices, ignores the wealth of research on the consequences of inequality, marginalisation, racism, parasitic politics and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). It provides a scapegoat for some people who are in positions of power to demand that others surmount obstacles that would in fact be, were they in the same position, insurmountable for them.

Adults’ socioeconomic achievements are often determined by their early experiences. The profound effects of childhood adversity discredit claims that an individual’s behaviour is simply a result of his/her choices rather than a reflection of his/her biology and consciousness. In other words, humans are trapped in and governed by their cultural and biological narratives. This means that a person whose mind was shaped by traumatic experiences cannot detach him/herself from the consequences of these experiences unless s/he receives knowledge and opportunities that confront and alter his/her worldview and physiology.

ACE 70 30 campaign

Source: Leeds Trinity University Blog

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