Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory [NOOK Book]

Overview

Reassembling the Social is a fundamental challenge from one of the world's leading social theorists to how we understand society and the 'social'.

Bruno Latour's contention is that the word 'social', as used by Social Scientists, has become laden with assumptions to the point where it has become misnomer. When the adjective is applied to a phenomenon, it is used to indicate a stablilized state of affairs, a bundle of ties that in due course ...
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Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory

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Overview

Reassembling the Social is a fundamental challenge from one of the world's leading social theorists to how we understand society and the 'social'.

Bruno Latour's contention is that the word 'social', as used by Social Scientists, has become laden with assumptions to the point where it has become misnomer. When the adjective is applied to a phenomenon, it is used to indicate a stablilized state of affairs, a bundle of ties that in due course may be used to account for another phenomenon. But Latour also finds the word used as if it described a type of material, in a comparable way to an adjective such as 'wooden' or 'steely'. Rather than
simply indicating what is already assembled together, it is now used in a way that makes assumptions about the nature of what is assembled. It has become a word that designates two distinct things: a process of assembling; and a type of material, distinct from others.

Latour shows why 'the social' cannot be thought of as a kind of material or domain, and disputes attempts to provide a 'social explanations' of other states of affairs. While these attempts have been productive (and probably necessary) in the past, the very success of the social sciences mean that they are largely no longer so. At the present stage it is no longer possible to inspect the precise constituents entering the social domain.

Latour returns to the original meaning of 'the social' to redefine the notion, and allow it to trace connections again. It will then be possible to resume the traditional goal of the social sciences, but using more refined tools. Drawing on his extensive work examining the 'assemblages' of nature, Latour finds it necessary to scrutinize thoroughly the exact content of what is assembled under the umbrella of Society.

This approach, a 'sociology of associations', has become known as Actor-Network-Theory, and this book is an essential introduction both for those seeking to understand Actor-Network Theory, or the ideas of one of its most influential proponents.
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Editorial Reviews

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"Valuable...richly rewards close reading."—Contemporary Sociology
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Bruno Latour is a Professor at the Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris. Having been trained as a philosopher, then an anthropologist, Bruno Latour specialized in the analysis of scientists and engineers at work, and published works on philosophy, history, sociology, and the anthropology of science. He is the author of Laboratory Life (Princeton University Press), We Have Never Been Modern (Harvard University Press), and Pandora's Hope: Essays in the Reality of Science Studies (Harvard University Press).

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgements     ix
Introduction: How to Resume the Task of Tracing Associations     1
How to Deploy Controversies About the Social World
Learning to Feed off Controversies     21
First Source of Uncertainty: No Group, Only Group Formation     27
Second Source of Uncertainty: Action Is Overtaken     43
Third Source of Uncertainty: Objects too Have Agency     63
Fourth Source of Uncertainty: Matters of Fact vs. Matters of Concern     87
Fifth Source of Uncertainty: Writing Down Risky Accounts     121
On the Difficulty of Being an ANT: An Interlude in the Form of a Dialog     141
How to Render Associations Traceable Again
Why is it so Difficult to Trace the Social?     159
How to Keep the Social Flat     165
First Move: Localizing the Global     173
Second Move: Redistributing the Local     191
Third Move: Connecting Sites     219
Conclusion: From Society to Collective-Can the Social Be Reassembled?     247
Bibliography     263
Index     281
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