Friday, June 17, 2005

(Reading Roundup: The Lightning Round)

Originally posted: Fri, 17 Jun 2005 18:10:47

I've read so many articles in the last few days that I don't have time to review them as thoroughly as usual. So here's a list of the articles and a couple of points on each.

Sheller, M. (2004). Mobile publics: beyond the network perspective. Environment and Planning, 22:39?52.

Embraces ANT's relationist materialism, but suggests that its metaphor of network is too limiting: "this metaphor of social networks is now being outmoded by the very processes of mobilisation of people, objects, and information enabled by the new communication technologies" (p.46). Instead, nominates the term "gel": "whereas a network implies clean nodes and ties, then, a gel is suggestive of the softer, more blurred boundaries of social interaction" (p.47). As in mainstream ANT, actors are network effects: "new 'persons' and 'places' are constantly emerging out of the social gel itself" (p.50). Has a terrific example of how phone networks enable new connections (p.49), which leads to a linking between ANT and new economy thought.

Callon, M. and Rabeharisoa (2003). Research "in the wild" and the shaping of social identities. Technology in Society, 25:193?204.

More linking on ANT and new economy:

Briefly, even if there are multiple markets and they are organized in different ways, all now share a common feature: users or consumers who take an ever greater role in defining demand, that is, in the conception of the products being offered to them" (p.194)

And a rare discussion of expertise in ANT:

As Harry Collins put it in a recent review, it is a mistake to jump from a critique of Western science to arguing for the abolition of the notion of expertise [20]. We would add that it is also a mistake to deny the existence of lay knowledge.

The AFM experience takes us even further in the adoption of a symmetrical point of view. It shows, first, that these types of knowledge are not contradictory but complementary, for ?when science is applied without taking local knowledge into account, it is often the poorer for it,>

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