12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Retelling the social,
This review is from: Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies) (Paperback)
This is a quite readable book in the context of its topic area. It is not a book I personally like although I think it is widely read.
The key problem of the book is its tendency to largely ignore swathes of existing mainstream sociology (particularly American). Many of the gaps or problematizations Bruno identifies with our orthodoxy are questionable given my (more sympathetic) reading of the mainstream sociology. Some of the claims he makes to justify his ANT approach are simply false. Consequently, I would recommend PhD students not to read ANT extensively as a basis for their understanding of the field -- lest they reinvent the wheel. Rather, ANT can be a source of inspiration (particularly the empirical stories). ANT is not sufficient due to its inability to build knowledge that accumulates over existing knowledge, unless you work in some weird academic context enamoured by ANT and largely ignorant of the 'lamestream scholarship'.
Many of Bruno's insights, I feel personally, are just rhetoric tricks where the old is said in a new way. Of course the new way of saying things 'reveals' or 'highlights' aspects we might otherwise miss but from a more analytical perspective the insights tend to often be not much else but footnotes to the existing understanding. Well, in all honestly there are not many scholars who can do even that. He bravely seeks to reinvent a field. It is an impossible project, which I guess we should admire.
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Initial post: 31 Oct 2013 21:08:47 GMT
K. Andreasen says:
I am curious as to which studies in mainstream sociology you are refering to. I am currently (re)reading this book, and it certainly strikes me as a frontal attack on much of the sociology I have been taught, though that is mostly of the continental kind.
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