Key Difference – Autonomy vs Independence
Autonomy and Independence can be considered as synonymous on one level, although there is a difference between the two words on another level. The similarity between autonomy and independence comes with the idea of freedom. Both highlight the ability to make one’s decisions and choices. However, as mentioned above there is a difference as well. This difference between autonomy and independence can be understood as follows. Autonomy is the state of being self-governed. On the other hand, independence is the state of not being dependent on another. The concept of independence implies a rejection of rules and regulations but this is not the case in autonomy. This is the key difference between autonomy and independence.
What is Autonomy?
Autonomy is the state of being self-governed. The adjective of autonomy is autonomous. Autonomy highlights that the individual has the freedom to think and act freely. This can be understood through a small example. In the classroom setting, teachers encourage child autonomy. This refers to a condition where the child is encouraged to think, set goals and achieve them on their own. This can be used in the English language as follows.
The teacher encourages student autonomy within the classroom.
In counseling, it is often believed that client autonomy is a key principle to be respected.
In both examples, note how the role of power comes out through the sentence. Unlike in the case of independence, individuals have the power, rather than freedom, to make his own desicions.
The word autonomy is also used in the context of states or regions to highlight that they are self-governed. This explains that such countries experience a certain power to set their rules and regulations.
What is Independence?
Independence is the state of not being dependent on another. The adjective of independence is independent. More than any other element, independence stresses this need to be free and not be influenced or dependent on others. Look at the following examples.
The people rejoiced at gaining their independence after so many years of suffering.
She has always been an independent woman.
In the examples presented above, the idea of independence highlights the freedom of the individual or group. Unlike in the case of autonomy, more focus is on the freedom to choose and live in whatever manner that pleases the individual without much attention to rules. Independent also highlights having enough money to support oneself.
Independent is also used as a noun to refer to a person who is independent or else to a person who votes with a freely without any affiliations.
What is the difference between Autonomy and Independence?
Definitions of Autonomy and Independence:
Autonomy: Autonomy is the state of being self-governed.
Independence: Independence is the state of not being dependent on another.
Characteristics of Autonomy and Independence:
Autonomy: The adjective is autonomous.
Independence: The adjective is independent.
Autonomy: The main focus is on individual power.
Independence: The main focus is on not being dependent or influenced.
1. “Children marbles“. [CC BY 2.0] via Commons
2. Political world map By Ionut Cojocaru (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I did not understand it, sorry. Unfortunately I came to find the former and the latter parts of your explanation contrary to each other. what is leading me astray is the two examples with the term Autonomy in them. Isn’t it, please, that Autonomy is more tough/strong than Independence? So, why would the teacher give Autonomy to the pupil at the classroom? oh 🙁 I cannot get it correctly. Sorry. please just tell me whether it’s the independence or Autonomy that a community (a freed country) celebrates? if it is called the independence day, so why would they ever fight in the name of Autonomy before they could achieve the triumph over their opponents?
Fr. Emeka Nwosuh, OP says
I think the above distinctions are not too exact. While both suggests freedom, autonomy on one hand suggests a freedom that is circumscribed by a higher authority, while in the case of independence, there is no higher authority that circumscribes one’s freedom to act.
In other words, autonomy is circumscribed freedom to act while, independence is uncircumscribed freedom to act.
For instance, Spain is an independent country, while Catalonia is an autonomous region. Catalonia has the freedom to act but within the limits set by the Spanish Constitution. As an independent country, Spain can freely act without reference to another country (but of course respecting the generally agreed international laws and norms).
In the above example, a degree of autonomy (freedom) can be encouraged and allowed to the pupils or students but regulated by the rules or limits set by the class teacher or parents.