Agentic orientation as magical voluntarism

Joshua Gunn, Dana L. Cloud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


In this essay we argue that the rhetoric of Foss, Waters, and Armada's recent work on " agentic orientation," as well as the rhetoric of the popular bestselling DVD and book The Secret, are typical of " magical voluntarism." Magical voluntarism is an idealist understanding of human agency in which a subject can fulfill her needs and desires by simple wish-fulfillment and the manipulation of symbols, irrelevant of structural constraint or material limitation. Embracing magical voluntarism, we argue, leads to narcissistic complacency, regressive infantilism, and elitist arrogance. A more materialist and dialectical understanding of agency is better.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-78
Number of pages29
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Agentic orientation as magical voluntarism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this