Reassembling the Social – An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory
Publisher: Oxford University Press
“Everyone seems to know with what sort of forces and in which sort of materials the social world is made. I have always been struck, on the contrary, by the huge gap between the vast variety of attachments with which people elaborate their different worlds and the limited repertoire we possess in social science to account for them. I found this gap widening even more when I began, thirty years ago, to provide a social explanation of scientific practice. While most people said such an enterprise was clearly non sense; while some of my close colleagues claimed it was, if not easy, at least feasible within the normal limits of the humans sciences, a few friends and I decided to take the enormous difficulties of this task as the occasion to rethink the notions of society and of social explanation. Starting from the new insights of science studies, we have since explored many other domains from technology to health, from market organisations to art, from religion to law, from management to politics. This alternative way of practicing sociology has been called Actor-Network-Theory or ANT. Although it has been widely used, it has also been largely misunderstood — in part because of the ambiguity of the word ‘social’. To clarify those misunderstandings, I thought useful to write an introduction to this small school of thought — or rather to propose my own version of it. In this book I show why sociology may be construed as the science of associations and not only as the science of the social.