In the sociology of knowledge, a branch of sociology, a controversy over the boundaries of autonomy stopped at the concept of relative autonomy, until a typology of autonomy was created and developed within science and technology studies. According to it, the contemporary form of science's existing autonomy is the reflexive autonomy: actors and structures within the scientific field are able to translate or to reflect diverse themes presented by social and political fields, as well as influence them regarding the thematic choices on research projects.
Institutional autonomy is having the capacities as a legislator to be able to implant and pursue official goals. The institutions are responsible for finding the right amount of resources or modify their current plans, programs, courses, responsibilities, and services to be able to have the means fit the end. But in order to do so, they must counter the obstacles that can occur, such as social pressure and socioeconomic difficulties. From a legislator's point of view, to increase institutional autonomy, conditions of self-management and institutional self-governance must be put in place. An increase in leadership and a redistribution of the responsibilities of decision-making would be beneficial to the research of resources.
Institutional autonomy was often seen as a synonym for self-determination, and the government feared that it would lead institutions to an irredentist or secessionist state. But autonomy should be seen as the solution to the struggles of self-determination. Self-determination is a movement toward independence, whereas autonomy is a way to accommodate the separatist in a country. Institutional autonomy has been the answer to conflicts regarding minorities and ethnic groups in a society. Allowing more autonomy to groups and institutions helps create diplomatic relationships with them and the government.
In governmental parlence, autonomy refers to self-governance. An example of an autonomous jurisdiction was the former United States governance of the Philippine Islands. The Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 provided the framework for the creation of an autonomous government under which the Filipino people had broader domestic autonomy than previously, although it reserved certain privileges to the United States to protect its sovereign rights and interests. Another example was the status of Kosovo as the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo under the former Yugoslav government of Marshal Tito.
Autonomy is a key concept that has a broad impact on different fields of philosophy. In metaphysical philosophy, the concept of autonomy is referenced in discussions about free will, fatalism, determinism, and agency. In How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time, philosopher Iain King developed an 'Autonomy Principle', which he defines as "Let people choose for themselves, unless we know their interests better than they can." King argues it is not enough to know someone else's interests better than the person; autonomy should only be infringed if a person is unable to know their own interests on a particular matter. In moral philosophy, autonomy refers to subjecting oneself to objective moral law.