Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory

Paperback | September 12, 2007

byBruno Latour

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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 coursemay 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 assumptionsabout 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 thatthey 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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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 ...

Bruno Latour is a professor at Sciences-Po, 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...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.65 inPublished:September 12, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199256055

ISBN - 13:9780199256051

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Table of Contents

Introduction: How to Resume the Task of Tracing AssociationsPart I: How to Deploy Controversies About the Social World1. Learning to Feed from Controversies2. First Source of Uncertainty: No Group, Only Group Formation3. Second Source of Uncertainty: Action is Overtaken4. Third Source of Uncertainty: Objects Too Have Agency5. Fourth Source of Uncertainty: Matters of Fact vs. Matters of Concern6. Fifth Source of Uncertainty: Writing Down Risky Accounts7. On the Difficulty of Being an ANT - An Interlude in Form of a DialogPart II: How to Render Associations Traceable Again8. Why is it So Difficult to Trace the Social?9. How to Keep the Social Flat10. First Move: Localizing the Global11. Second Move: Redistributing the Local12. Third Move: Connecting Sites13. Conclusion: From Society to Collective - Can the Social be Reassembled?

Editorial Reviews

`...a source of inspiration for how to write a social science text: vividly, engagingly, eloquently.'Organization Studies