• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL
Help

Chapter X. Using Actor-Network Theory to... > Actors, Networks, Black-Boxes and Tr...

Actors, Networks, Black-Boxes and Translations

ANT considers any human or non-human entity that can “make its presence individually felt by the others” (Law, 1987) to be an actor. While it is clear that a human entity may be able to do this, to those new to actor-network theory it is not so obvious that a non-human also can. The answer is to think of what lies behind an actor. If we consider the Bizewest portal as an actor, for example, then behind this actor we could find WREDO operational staff, an ISP, a web site, software, modems, computers, web browsers, telephone lines and many more things. When we speak of the portal making its presence felt and of acting to affect other entities, what we really mean is that some of the entities that make up the portal take actions that can be considered to be undertaken ’on behalf of the portal’. Therefore, when looked into carefully an actor itself consists of a network of interactions and associations. An actor is made up only of its interactions with these other actors (de Vries, 1995), and Law (1992) notes that an actor thus consists of an association of heterogeneous elements constituting a network.

An actor like this can, in many ways, thus be thought of as a black box (Callon, 1986a), the contents of which we can chose not to worry about. The details of its composition are then just a complication we can avoid having to deal with. We can consider this entity just as an actor, but when doing so it must be remembered that behind each actor there hide other actors that it has, more of less effectively, drawn together, or ’black-boxed’ (Callon, 1987). When the time comes to open the lid of the black box and look inside, it will be seen to constitute a whole network of other, perhaps complex, associations.


PREVIEW

                                                                          

Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial


  
  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint