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Actor network theory and media: do they connect and on what terms?

Couldry, Nick ORCID: 0000-0001-8233-3287 (2008) Actor network theory and media: do they connect and on what terms? In: Hepp, Andreas, Krotz, Friedrich, Moores, Shaun and Winter, Carsten, (eds.) Connectivity, Networks and Flows: Conceptualizing Contemporary Communications. Hampton Publishing, Cresskill, NJ, USA, pp. 93-110. ISBN 9781572738577

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Actor Network Theory (‘ANT’) is a highly influential account within the sociology of science that seeks to explain social order not through an essentialised notion of ‘the social’ but through the networks of connections between human agents, technologies and objects. Entities (whether human or non-human) within those networks acquire power through the number, extensiveness and stability of the connections routed through them, and through nothing else. Such connections are contingent and emerge historically – they are not natural – but, if successful, a network acquires the force of ‘nature’: it becomes, in a favourite term of ANT, ‘black-boxed’. On the face of it, ANT seems perfectly placed to generate a theory of the role(s) of media and communication technologies in contemporary societies: these too have emerged historically yet over more than a century have acquired the force of ‘nature’. Yet this connection has been surprisingly little explored. This chapter asks why, in an attempt to understand the substance as well as the limits of ANT’s contribution to how we theorise the connectivities that media enable.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2008 Hampton Press Inc.
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2013 13:28
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 05:16

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