Actor Network Theory (ANT)


One of the subjects this week in CCK11 is Actor Network Theory (ANT). As no reader or link is presented in the coursebook, I like to find some sources on Actor Network Theory (ANT).
Originally created by Latour and Callon (France)  and John Law.

Short: an actor is part of a network of human and non-human organization structures. An actor-network may lack all the characteristics of atechnical network -it may be local, it may have no compulsory paths, no strategically positioned nodes.

Actor-Network Theory is a framework and systematic way to consider the infrastructure surrounding technological achievements. Assigns agency to both human and non-human actors (e.g. artifacts). (source: Bruno Latour )
“An actor-network is literally the network of heterogeneous materials that make up the context.” (E.Monteiro)

The notion of inscription refers to the way technical artefacts embody patterns of use: “Technical objects thus simultaneously embody and measure a set of relations between heterogeneous elements.
The term inscription might sound somewhat deterministic by suggesting that action is inscribed, grafted or hard-wired into an artefact.
In ANT terms, design is translation: “users’” and others’ interests may, according to typical ideal models, be translated into specific “needs,” the specific needs are further translated into more general and unified needs so that these needs might translated into one and the same solution.

In my view ANT is not a Learning Theory.

:ANT, especially in the minimalistic version of it outlined here, offers an illuminating vocabulary to describe information infrastructure.” writes Eric Monteiro in ACTOR-NETWORK THEORY AND INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE

Yahoo group on ANT

article on ANT, with introduction :”A very brief introduction to Actor-Network Theory
ANT’s main feature is its focus on inanimate entities and their effect on social processes. An actor is thus defined as the “source of an action regardless of its status as a human or non-human””


2 thoughts on “Actor Network Theory (ANT)

  1. Thanks Jaap,

    This is a good starting point for reflecting on how ANT may be useful to me, a teacher, in a practical sense. On the intellectual level, it’s heady stuff, and I’ll have to do some more reading. Again, thank you for this.


  2. Hi, and thanks for visiting my blog btw. I think of ANT as more a way of seeing everything, rather than being a theory of a particular discipline. Nonetheless there is some excellent writing that incorporates ANT in education, Jan Nespor especially, best wishes,

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