Assemblage theory, Occupational science, and the complexity of human agency

Ben Sellar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Occupational science has increasingly turned to complexity sciences and philosophy to articulate the intricacies of human occupation and overcome simplistic dualisms. Yet the dissolution of such dichotomies as human/non-human or active/passive within these models makes locating human agency in them challenging. I turn to DeLanda's assemblage theory to propose a way of reconsidering agency in complex systems. Assemblage theory intersects with complexity theory and its capacity to account for both human and non-human processes makes it highly relevant to occupational science. Occupational science, framed as a disciplinary assemblage, is used to direct focus upon two key aspects of assemblage theory: the significance of relations; and territory formation as a dynamic process. Agency, an issue of great importance to a field concerned with human occupation and action, is finally considered as an emerging product of the assemblage, to problematise the dualistic opposition of human activity and environmental passivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Occupational Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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