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.

Actors, Identities and ‘Natural’ Nonhumans

Actors, Identities and ‘Natural’ Nonhumans
Actors, identities and ‘natural’ nonhumans

In the preceding chapters, we saw how identity was resourced by particular actors attempting to generate the sorts of associations that would best serve their desired network. However, in Chapter 4, it was noted how ANT was also concerned to overcome the privileging of the social in any account of the production of social order and, by extension, of identity. In this chapter, we take up this ‘radical symmetrism’ (Calion and Latour, 1992) in order to suggest, tentatively, ways in which we might theorize identity as the construction of both human and nonhuman, particularly ‘natural’, actors.

To date, detailed work on this particular facet of ANT has been confined, primarily, to the role of technological artefacts such ...

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