Presentation on theme: "SOC 3601: Lecture 9 ANT (and the sociology of contemporary biotechnology)"— Presentation transcript:
SOC 3601: Lecture 9 ANT (and the sociology of contemporary biotechnology)
What do we already know about ANT? Based on the work of Bruno Latour, Michel Callon and John Law Callon (1987) provides some definitions... Callon (1987) ➡ “Actor-networks = heterogeneous associations of unstable elements, which influence and re-define each other continuously” ➡ “Actor-Network Theory = new description of the dynamics of society”
Involves the study of both, human, and non-human, competences (i.e. how these are distributed): ➡ “Where others see human relations (society) + non human relations (technology), Latour sees only actors exchanging their properties” ➡ “Society = a collective of humans and non-humans” Key terms: ➡ delegation, translation, inscription, programmes of action, collectives,... What do we already know about ANT?
What happens in practice: ➡ Callon, M. (1986) Callon, M. (1986) ➡ Latour, B. & Woolgar, S. (1979) Latour, B. & Woolgar, S. (1979) Some new terms: ➡ actant, generalised symmetry,... Exploring ANT in the laboratory: ➡ Collins, H. & Kusch, M. (1998) Collins, H. & Kusch, M. (1998) A diversion... The “Science Wars” What are we going to learn about ANT?
Based on the application of 3 key princples Identifies 4 (more or less overlapping)moments in the process of translation ➡ problematisation ➡ interessement ➡ enrolment ➡ mobilisation advantages v. disadvantages N.B. vocabulary of translation Callon (1986): The Sociology of Translation
Based on laboratory ethnography which predates the term “Actor- Network Theory” Establishes the foundations of parts of ANT: ➡ no a priori distinction between social and technical ➡ highlights the mobilisation of objects and processes in the social construction of TRF ➡ incorporates the concept of embodiment ➡ erasure of history as the precursor to “black boxing” A seminal study in STS Latour & Woolgar (1979): Laboratory Ethnography
What is “generalised symmetry”? ➡ Derived from Bloor’s (1976) symmetry principle, but a critical reaction to its applicationBloor’s (1976) ➡ Callon (1986): “the commitment to explaining conflicting viewpoints in the same terms” (1986: 196) Callon (1986) What does it mean to apply this in practice? ➡ From ANT’s perspective ➡ From a critical perspective Why is it so problematic? A New Vocabulary: Applying the principle of “generalised symmetry”
Collins & Kusch (1998): Action MorphicityCollins & Kusch (1998) ➡ Concerns the difference between the types of actions that humans and machines can do ➡ Turns on the observation that machines can never be socialised, therefore they can never carry out actions that refer to social context These issues can be investigated empirically: ➡ Latour (1993) “The Sociology of a Door-opener” Latour (1993) My research: Can actions that humans carry out with reference to social context be replicated by machines? (i.e. can laboratory processes be automated sucessfully?) Responses to this problem: In theory... and in practice
My research: ➡ Can actions that humans carry out with reference to social context be replicated by machines? ➡ i.e. can laboratory processes be automated sucessfully? Laboratory observation which focusses on the differences between actions which can be: ➡ A) carried out by humans, and ➡ B) replicated by machines Responses to this problem: In theory... and in practice
The when and how ANT can be used “Generalised Symmetry” ➡ What it is ➡ The advantages of this approach ➡ The problems and debates it sparks How generalised symmetry can be explored in practice Aside: Lessons from the “Science Wars” In Summary:
Callon, M. (1987). "Society in the Making: The Study of Technology as a Tool for Sociological Analysis", In Bijker et al. (eds) The Social Construction of Technical Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology, London: MIT Press. pp. 83-103. Callon, M. (1986). "Some Elements of a Sociology of Translation: Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of St Brieuc Bay", In Law, J. (ed). Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 196-233 Latour, B. and Woolgar, S. (1979). Laboratory Life: the Social Construction of Scientific Facts, Los Angeles, USA: Sage. Collins, H. M. and Kusch, M. (1998). The Shape of Actions: What Humans and Machines Can Do, Cambridge, MASS.: MIT Press. References (1)
Bloor, D. (1976). Knowledge and Social Imagery, 2nd Edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press Latour, B. (1988). “Mixing Humans and Nonhumans Together: The Sociology of a Door-Closer” Social Problems, Vol 35, No. 3, pp. 298-310. References (2)