Reassembling the Social

Beginning work with Latour oh so carefully: the necessity of a mindfulness toward definition/semiotic work, particularly if I am crafting (new) definitions, and their associations.

Introduction: How to Resume the Task of Tracing Associations*

“The argument of this book can be stated very simply: when social scientists add the adjective ‘social’ to some phenomenon, they designate a stabilized state of affairs, a bundle of ties that, later, may be mobilized to account for some other phenomenon. There is nothing wrong with this use of the word as long as it designates what is already assembled together, without making any superfluous assumption about the nature of what is assembled. Problems arise, however, when ‘social’ begins to mean a type of material, as if the adjective was roughly comparable to other terms like ‘wooden’, ‘steely’, ‘biological’, ‘economical’, ‘mental’, ‘organizational’, or ‘linguistic’. At that point, the meaning of the word breaks down since it now designates two entirely different things: first, a movement during a process of assembling; and second, a specific type of ingredient that is supposed to differ from other materials.”

*Paris ville invisible (a succession of photographic essays)

Latour states that the photographic essays “tries to cover much of the same ground” as the book. The English translation of the “succession” says “traversing, proportioning, distributing, allowing”; am I seeing associations or connections (which is the actor-network)? This will be a mindful reading. Related, mindfulness or splitting hairs, the cover of my version of the book reads Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Not once have I put the – between ‘network’ and ‘theory’, have I been cutting association(s)? How does that change my reading of the methodology?

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