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Utrecht Centre for Television in Transition


4 November 2013

ANT and media studies

In the November seminar we raise the question of the value and sensibility of the Actor-Network Theory (ANT) as a method in media studies. As an introduction to ANT we will be reading the following texts [in their respective order]:

On using ANT for studying information systems: a (somewhat) Socratic dialogue, by Bruno Latour, in The social study of information and communication technology: innovation, actors and contexts (Chrisanthi Avgerou, Claudio Ciborra, Frank Lamd (Eds.), Oxford University Press (2004)

The Sociology of an ActorNetwork: The Case of the Electric Vehicle, by Michel Callon, in Mapping the Dynamics of Science and Technology. Sociology of Science in the Real World, edited by Michel Canon, John Law, Arie Rip, 19-34 (1986)

Actor Network Theory and Media: Do They Connect and on What Terms?, by Nick Couldry, Chapter for A. Hepp et al. (eds) Cultures of Connectivity (2004)

From here we will revisit some of the points raised by Couldry and dig into            – What constitutes an actor-network theory approach? [What questions can we answer using ANT? Is it even a method in its own right?] – What insights does tracing actor-networks generate/hinder?
– How does cultural form/content figure in in the construction of technology?
– What does actor-network theory make of the notion of ‘power’ and ‘agency’? (note: in Jose van Dijcks (2013) latest book she proposes combining a political economy approach with an actor-network approach to analyse social media)

Two special guests will be present to share their views on ANT with us and to enrich our discussion: Ann-Sophie Lehmann and Mirko Tobias Schäfer.

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