Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Here are a couple of quotes from Bruno Latour's *Reassembling the Social* that I find evocative. They were sent to me by a media theorist in response to my recent posts about lineage, community etc:

"The sense of belonging has entered a crisis. But to register this feeling of crisis and to follow these new connections, another notion of the 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. This is the reason why I am going to define the social not as a special domain, a specific realm, or a particular sort of thing, but only as a very peculiar movement of re-association and reassembling." (7)

"So far, I have insisted mostly on the difference between "social" as in 'social ties' and 'social' as in 'associations' - bearing in mind that the second meaning is closer to the original etymology. I have argued that most often in social sciences, 'social' designates a type of link: it's taken as the name of a specific domain, a sort of material like straw, mud, string, wood or steel... For Action-Network Theory, as we now understand, the definition of the term is different: it doesn't designate a domain of reality or some partiuclar item, but rather is the name of a movement, a displacement, a transformation, a translation, an enrollment. It is an association between entities which are in no way recognizeable as being social in the ordinary manner, except during the brief moment when they are reshuffled together... Thus social,for Action Network Theory, is the name of a type of momentary association which is characterized by the way it gathers together into new shapes." (65)


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