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Using student-friendly features such as case studies and a glossary, this textbook provides a straightforward introduction to the concept of agency and how it can usefully inform the practice of social welfare. The book considers how agency and power inter-relate and how agency can inform new ways of thinking about the individual and society. Tracing the origins of agency and exploring the contributions of key thinkers from sociological and social policy perspectives, the book demonstrates a model of achievable change and in doing so represents an optimistic view on social work's potential to contribute to this. It suggests that an understanding of agency can help to shift the current outcome-driven approach to social work and welfare towards a broader perspective that encompasses an understanding of social and political theory. This book will be essential reading for undergraduate students and professionals training in social welfare, social work and education.