After ANT: complexity, naming and topology

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Creative Commons Licence

Creator(s)

Contributors

Contributed date

February 16, 2019 - 4:23am

Critical Commentary

What is a theory? Or, more broadly, what is a good way of addressing intellectual problems? This paper explores the tension central to the notion of an 'actor' - 'network' which is an intentionally oxymoronic term that combines—and elides the distinction between—structure and agency. It then notes that this tension has been lost as 'actor-network' has been converted into a smooth and consistent 'theory' that has been (too) simply and easily displaced, criticised or applied. It recalls another term important to the actor-network approach—that of translation— which is another term in tension, since (the play of words works best in the romance languages) to translate is to also betray {traductore, tradition). It is suggested that in social theory simplicity should not displace the complexities of tension. The chapter concludes by exploring a series of metaphors for grappling with tensions rather than wishing these away, and in particular considers the importance of topological complexity, and the notion of fractionality.

Source

Law, John. "After ANT: complexity, naming and topology." The Sociological Review 47, no. S1 (1999): 1-14.

Language

English

Cite as

John Law, "After ANT: complexity, naming and topology ", contributed by Parikshith Shashikumar, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 16 February 2019, accessed 17 May 2022. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/after-ant-complexity-naming-and-topology