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Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies) Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0199256051 ISBN-10: 0199256055

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Product Details

  • Series: Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies
  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (October 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199256055
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199256051
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Valuable...richly rewards close reading."--Contemporary Sociology


About the Author


Bruno Latour is a Professor at the Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris. Having been trained as a philosopher, then an anthropologist, Bruno Latour specialized in the analysis of scientists and engineers at work, and published works on philosophy, history, sociology, and the anthropology of science. He is the author of Laboratory Life (Princeton University Press), We Have Never Been Modern (Harvard University Press), and Pandora's Hope: Essays in the Reality of Science Studies (Harvard University Press).

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Customer Reviews

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Highly recommended if you're interested in this sort of thing.
ingonyama
Both the actor and its associated action undergo a metamorphosis process in each mode of action.
Hooman
So it helped me in terms of my own conceptualization and academic writing on these topics.
chaim noy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Reader on December 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is a "paradoxical" endeavour on a number of counts, and I'm drawing here on the Greek etymology of the word meaning `beyond received opinion.' While on the surface it purports to be an introduction to a particular research methodology--presumably for the benefit of social science PhD students--appealing to common sense, at the same time it is also a philosophical tour de force, engaging with metaphysical and ontological issues of the highest order.

It is quite possible to read it in a few days, as it is written in a colourful style peppered with amusing metaphors and examples, but it is more likely that a number of reads are required to fully experience what this book has to offer (unless you are an ANT enthusiast already). In the end it is a thought experiment and it will either work for you or it won't. You will either come away hating actor-network-theory for the rest of your life or you will have a conversion experience and you will never be able to look at baboons and the map of the London Underground quite the same way again.

In many ways this book reminds me of Heidegger's Being and Time, but the differences might be more important than the similarities. For one Latour completes the book as promised in the introduction, in contrast to Heidegger. But also Latour is a lot more specific and optimistic about the outcomes of his `deconstruction' of traditional sociology, as opposed to Heidegger's pessimistic and rather vague conclusions stemming from his destruction of traditional metaphysics.

In this sense Latour's Reassembling the Social is not so much an introduction to a theory as a guide or handbook to practical living. However the practical or empirical metaphysics he proposes for (re)assembling a better world is far from being a quick-fix solution: it asks for a tireless, on-going effort to collect and rearrange the world, morsel by morsel, just like an ant.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful By young blaze on February 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps it has a lot to do with the book being written in English (or at least it appears to have been, there is no translator listed), but this is by far the most lucid thing I've read by Latour. In a way it's a radical break, he finally embraces his troubled intellectual child Actor Network Theory, stops expecting its meaning to magically emerge from the context and sets forth exploring what it actually is and how it can work.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By ingonyama VINE VOICE on August 22, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book which deserves a wide reading in the social sciences for its brazen and determined effort to deeply problematize the notion of the "social."

At the same time, as I read the first few chapters, I had a sense of deja vu. The program Latour is putting forth--at least initially-- appears not so different from that of Fredrik Barth -- not Barth's early transactionalist stuff, but his later work on the anthropology of knowledge. Specifically,

Barth, F.
1992 Towards greater naturalism in conceptualizing societies. In Conceptualizing Society. Kuper, A., eds. Pp. 17--33. : Routledge.

and

Barth, F.
1993 Balinese worlds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

put forth a very similar approach to the "social." Barth himself is a great admirer of Latour (see his praise for Laboratory Life and Science in Action in his 2002 piece in Current Anthropology) but Latour--at least here--doesn't seem to be reading Barth....

Latour is also taking great pains to distance himself from Bourdieu's reflexive sociology, and from critics who would label ANT as postmodernist. Highly recommended if you're interested in this sort of thing.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By MHunter on April 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
Simply the best introduction to ANT available. Latour's prose seems effortlessly easy here; the concepts are accessible, the insights stark, and the organization lucid. In its first section you will find the presentation of the case which motivates the use of ANT so compelling that you may begin to wonder how, and why, other approaches can properly be called sociology. There is a charming, funny, and helpful middle section in which Latour writes in dialog. A testament to the degree with which one can engage this work: not a single one of its 262 pages in my text avoided some highlighting, underlining, or maringal notes. Since many readers will be familiar with "We Have Never Been Modern" it is important to note that "Reassembling the Social" is altogether more focused. Its target is smaller, so this is no mystery. But here you find a concrete and practical account of how to treat objects and actors in an appropriately relative way, so as to render them both full participants in stabilizing the social. Put short, a masterwork.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The audience for this book seems to be one of two groups: People already familiar with ANT and theorists. In this sense the title is misleading. Those looking for a more clear introduction to the concept and method are likely to be frustrated and see themselves in the dialog offered in the middle of the book. I often found myself asking how I could actually use this with little answers.

That said, its commentary on the state of sociology, and in particular its call to ask us to slow down and reconsider the things we take for granted is a noble effort. However, it is one made only more frustrating by its lack of practicality. I would recommend it to any sociologists, but with some slight hesitation as I think it benefits those who are much more interested and well versed in theory than the title would imply.
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