The critics of ANT in particular and network studies generally often miss the mark when it comes to how “subjectivity” is handled theoretically in these fields. Human consciousness is a nodal confluence and mediating chaos-box very much operational and in the mix. So let us keep the baby minus its bathwater.
Perhaps in theory actor-network theory neglects human reflexivity; in practice, however, ANT accounts are full of fully reflexive humans all reflexively reflecting in their own ways. Mol’s The Body Multiple is a paragon of self-awareness and empathy. Latour’s Aramisis replete with engineers agonising over engineering, politicians opportunistically politicking, etc. In Gomart and Hennion’s A Sociology of Attachment, even drug addicts aren’t reducible to their vice; their vice, instead, provokes instances of subjectivation.
[G&H] reveal a subtle interweaving between being abandoned to an external power and the virtuosity of practices, of manual, and of social skills. The user passes between active and passive. That is, between ‘I am manipulated’ (because I agree to it) and ‘I manipulate’ (an object which is stronger than myself). (p.243)
There are no more ‘network dopes’ than there are ‘cultural’ ones.
And so on and so on.
Nowhere are human…
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