TEL2-4 Actor Network Theory – Bruno Latour

Bruno LatourA French sociologist named Bruno Latour was conveying his theory in this session. He talks of Actor Network Theory. A theory where not only humans are considered significant actors, but non-humans are too! This was key in his text, that human or non-human, we all influence each other in the things that we do. So far so good.

Then he moves on to a vocabulary which describes his theory! An overview:

  • scripts: scenes or scenarios played by human or non-human actors
  • transcription: the translation of a script from one repertoire to a more durable one
  • prescription: whatever a scene presupposes from its transcribed actors
  • des-inscription: actors who disagree with the prescribed behavior
  • subscription: actors who agree with the prescribed behavior
  • pre-inscription: all the things assimilated by an actor before coming to the scene
  • chreod: necessary path that users follow

It’s here that he somewhat loses me in his explanation. I find the terminology very hard to comprehend and translate into a real (educational/pedagogical) situations. However, starting from the key assumption of the text, I think he means that due to the fact that actors can be human or non-human, they all influence each other and form a network. We are networked/linked with other actors in everything we do.

Just like the last paper, I see great resemblances with the connectivist theory. The networked nature of our social and also logistical environment suggest that we, as social beings, engage with other actors in our daily lives. Engaging inevitably leads to interaction and influencing. So, knowledge can be found in these networks and learning occurs when we interact and exchange information in these networks. Latour uses his vocabulary to explain the extent of this interaction between humans and non-humans, especially the latter. Non-humans affect our choices a great length, driving us to one or another way of doing something. That part of living in networks is new to me. The aspect of non-humans shaping our lives and helping us do what we do.

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