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Actor-Network Theory

  • By: Fernando Javier Bosco
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Actor-network theory is an approach that attempts to capture the complexity of the social world by uncovering the relations among human and nonhuman actors. Supporters of this approach argue that it is only through the tracing of all types of connections between actors that one can come to understand how different social processes and phenomena arise. Because of its emphasis on relations, actor-network theory is also called the sociology of associations: The focus is always on the connections among disparate things rather than on the similarities or regularities that may appear to be grouping actors together.

Actor-network theory shares some antiessentialist sentiments (an opposition to fixed entities and essences) with other strands of postmodern and poststructural thinking. As a result, the approach is suspicious of explanations ...

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