Review: Paul Downes (2020). Reconstructing Agency in Developmental and Educational Psychology—Inclusive Systems as Concentric Space

Keywords: agency, spatial systems, concentric space, transitions, emotional-relational turn, phenomenology


In this article, I present a review of Paul DOWNES' (2020) book "Reconstructing Agency in Developmental and Educational Psychology—Inclusive Systems as Concentric Space." DOWNES describes the goal of this impressive work as the reconstruction of the foundations of developmental and educational psychology that fills in an important gap by arguing for a spatial turn. He proposes an innovative framework of agency seen as a movement between concentric and diametric spatial relations for a reconstruction of resilience. I present an overview of the structure and the content of the book followed by discussing in more detail the four themes: 1. key problems of agency, 2. the emotional-relational turn, 3. VYGOTSKY and the question about cultural conformity, and 4. the proposed spatial ecological systems framework, as both a domain of study and a methodology. In the discussion, I add perspectives from the field of teacher education and professional learning and agency.


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Author Biography

Birgitte Lund Nielsen, VIA University College

Birgitte Lund NIELSEN holds a PhD in educational research and a position as senior associate professor and research leader in the Program for Professional Education in the Research Centre for Pedagogy and Bildung at VIA University College, Aarhus, Denmark. Her research focuses on teachers' professional learning, in-service and pre-service teacher education, professional agency and learning communities. Research interests include also classroom studies and implementation issues.