Agency simply means “the quality of being capable of taking action”. You and the people around you seem to have agency; while rocks generally do not. Inanimate objects are sometimes granted agency in a kind of humorous quote marks (eg “the washer decided to break today”); later we will try to take such constructions seriously. Agents (entities that have agency) have goals or purposes, and the actions they take are seen as being in pursuit of these goals. Agency thus implies some rudimentary rationality, and a degree of autonomy.