Actor Network Theory + Affordance



Actor–network theory, often abbreviated as ANT, is an agent-based approach to social theory and research, originating in the field of science studies, which treats objects as part of social networks. Although it is best known for its controversial insistence on the agency of nonhumans, ANT is also associated with forceful critiques of conventional and critical sociology. Developed by science and technology studies scholars Michel Callon and Bruno Latour, the sociologist John Law, and others, it can more technically be described as a “material-semiotic” method. This means that it maps relations that are simultaneously material (between things) and semiotic (between concepts). It assumes that many relations are both material and semiotic. (Wikipedia)



読書会♯2 Actor Network Theory & Affordance




Bruno Latour – Reassembling the Social – An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (2005)
要点抜粋レジュメ Hiroki Yamamoto

Introduction: How to Resume the Task of Tracing Associations

‘What I want to do in the present book is to show why the social cannot be construed as a kind of material or domain and to dispute the project of providing a ‘social explanation’ of some other state of affairs.’

‘What I want to do is to redefine the notion of social by going back to its original meaning and making it able to trace connection again.’

‘What is a society? What dose the word ‘social’ mean? […] To answer these questions, two widely different approaches have been taken. Only one of them has become common sense – the other is the object of the present work.’

‘The first solution has been to posit the existence of a specific sort of phenomenon variously called ‘society’ […] or ‘social structure’.’

‘The other approach does not take for granted the basic tenet of the first. It claims that there is nothing specific to social order; that there is no social dimension of any sort, no ‘social context’, no distinct domain of reality to which the label ‘social’ or ‘society’ could be attribute […]: ’There is no such a thing as a society.’’

‘In the alternative view, ‘social’ is not some glue that could fix everything including what the other glues cannot fix; it is what is glued together by many other types of connections.’

‘[…] redefining sociology […] as the tracing of associations. In this meaning of the adjective, social does not designate a thing among other things, like a black sheep among other white sheep, but a type of connection between things that are not themselves social.’

‘[…] another notion of social has to be devised. It has to be much wider than what is usually called by that name, yet strictly limited to the tracing of new associations and to the designing of their assemblages. […] I am going to define the social […] only as a very peculiar movement of re-association and reassembling.’
([…] 社会的なものの別の定義が作り出されなくてはならない。それはかつてその名前で呼ばれていたのもよりも「はるかに幅広い意味をもつ」が、新しい結合関係の探求とそれらの集合の設計に「厳密に限定」されなくてはならない。[…] 私は社会的なものを[…]再結合と再構築のある特有の運動としてのみ定義したい。)

‘Whereas, in the first approach, every activity – law, science, […] etc. – could be related to and explained by the same social aggregates behind all of them, in the second version of sociology there exists nothing behind those activities even though they might be linked in a way that produce a society – or doesn’t produce one.’

‘To clarify, I will call the first approach ‘sociology of the social’ and the second ‘sociology of associations’ (I wish I could use ‘associology’).’

‘But in situations where innovations proliferate, where group boundaries are uncertain, when the range of entities to be taken into account fluctuates, the sociology of the social in no longer able to trace actors’ new associations.’

‘Using a slogan from ANT [Actor-Network-Theory], you have ‘to follow the actors themselves’, that is try to catch up with their often wild innovations in order to learn from them what the collective existence has become in their hands, which methods they have elaborated to make it fit together, which accounts could best define the new associations that they have been forced to establish.’

‘The two traditions can easily be reconciled, the second being simply the resumption of the task that the first believed was too quickly achieved. The factors gathered in the past under the label of a ‘social domain’ are simply some of the elements to be assembled in the future in what I will call not a society but a collective.’


‘How to deploy the many controversies about associations without restricting in advance the social to a specific domain?’

How to render fully traceable the means allowing actors to stabilize those controversies?

Through which procedures is it possible to reassemble the social not in a society but in a collective?

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