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Assemblage thinking and actor-network theory: conjunctions, disjunctions, cross-fertilisations


Müller, Martin; Schurr, Carolin (2016). Assemblage thinking and actor-network theory: conjunctions, disjunctions, cross-fertilisations. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 41(3):217-229.

Abstract

This paper shows that assemblage thinking and actor-network theory (ANT) have much more to gain from each other than debate has so far conceded. Exploring the conjunctions and disjunctions between the two approaches, it proposes three cross-fertilisations that have implications for understanding three key processes in our socio-material world: stabilisation, change and affect. First, the conceptual vocabulary of ANT can enrich assemblage thinking with an explicitly spatial account of the ways in which assemblages are drawn together, reach across space and are stabilised. Second, each approach is better attuned to conceptualising a particular kind of change in socio-material relations: ANT describes change without rupture, or fluidity, whereas assemblage thinking describes change with rupture, or events. Third and last, assemblage thinking could fashion ANT with a greater sensitivity for the productive role of affect in bringing socio-material relations into being through the production of desire/wish (désir). We demonstrate the implications of these cross-fertilisations for empirical work through a case study of the global market for assisted reproduction.

Abstract

This paper shows that assemblage thinking and actor-network theory (ANT) have much more to gain from each other than debate has so far conceded. Exploring the conjunctions and disjunctions between the two approaches, it proposes three cross-fertilisations that have implications for understanding three key processes in our socio-material world: stabilisation, change and affect. First, the conceptual vocabulary of ANT can enrich assemblage thinking with an explicitly spatial account of the ways in which assemblages are drawn together, reach across space and are stabilised. Second, each approach is better attuned to conceptualising a particular kind of change in socio-material relations: ANT describes change without rupture, or fluidity, whereas assemblage thinking describes change with rupture, or events. Third and last, assemblage thinking could fashion ANT with a greater sensitivity for the productive role of affect in bringing socio-material relations into being through the production of desire/wish (désir). We demonstrate the implications of these cross-fertilisations for empirical work through a case study of the global market for assisted reproduction.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:23 Mar 2016 17:09
Last Modified:09 Nov 2017 09:17
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0020-2754
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/tran.12117

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