Constructing Identities provides a refreshing overview and analysis of social constructionism's place in social psychology. Author Mike Michael offers a distinctive and coherent account that revolves around two main questions: How can social constructionism account for changes in human identities? And in what ways might social constructionism accommodate a role for nonhumans-whether technological or natural-in the constitution of identity? With interdisciplinary breadth the book locates these questions between the social psychological tradition and the highly influential contributions of actor network theory that has so dominated the sociology of scientific knowledge. The fruitful mix of these traditions sustains a clear and coherent discussion of how issues around agency, hybridity, marginality, and the “other” can contribute to a better understanding of human identity. Constructing Identities will be invaluable reading for students and academics in social psychology, the sociology of scientific knowledge, and anyone addressing the central issue of identity.
Actor-Network Theory and Identity
In the previous chapter, I introduced (my construction of) actor-network theory. In the process, I focused on some of its broad concerns: the practice of social order(ing); the nature of power; the analytic equalization of human and nonhumans. I also pointed to some of the shortcomings that have been identified: the overemphasis on the actor's agency; the pervasive managerialism and the exclusion of marginal actors; the role of ambivalence; and so on. In this chapter, I will look at the way that ANT can serve in the theorization of identity. The main aim of this chapter is, then, to illustrate with the aid of examples the way that actors attempt to demarcate identities in order to tie them ...