The Networked Societies and Society

24 Mar

People collectively exist in the world in a way of building networks, which makes sense for people’s existence. It is impossible for a person to live in a one-way network. It is truth that people sometimes do not realize they connect to certain networks in a situation of figuring out complex problems. Therefore, it would be informative for us to understanding our connection with the world if we apply some theory and concepts. In this blog, I will discuss about the “Actor-network theory”,  a new philosophy of society and some related concepts.

ANT, standing for Actor-network theory, is a distinctive method of social theory for the explanation of how material-semiotic networks work as one. For instance, an university is related both a network and an actor, and hook together and perform as a single entity with certain intentions. When it comes to the forming parts of university, the components work conhereently as a whole. Besides, this kind of actor-networks act repeatedly and constantly or the potential repetition stops while the networks will fall apart. However, it assumes that “networks of relations are not intrinsically coherent, and may indeed contain conflicts (there may be adversarial relations between teachers/children, or computer software may be incompatible).”

Moreover, the concept of distinguishing Intermediaries and Mediators is pivotal to ANT. Intermediaries refer to the ignorable entities which make no difference. However, Mediators multiply the variations therefore it is supposed to be the object of study. For example, Ipod amd Meizu mp4, a sociologist might take them as intermediaries, holding that the former “symbolises” the upper classes or tastes and the latter the lower classes. With this opinion the real world Ipod-Meizu mp4 difference is irrelevant because many brand differences do also reveal the class or taste differences. However, acted as mediators the brand differences have to be associated with by the analyst in their specificity: “the internal real-world complexities” of Ipod and Meizu immediately show the relevance.

In addition, a new philosophy of society (ANPS) conceptualizes components into the assemblage theory and social complexity. The main idea primarily focuses on two dimensions: a material-expressive axis and territorializing-deterritorializing axis, implying the progresses in which an element is contained. Taking Ipod as the example again, the mate.rial here can be performed as metal, plastic, aluminum etc. the expressive role is play as its style, type, color etc. territorializing role would be played by factors such as culture trend, available resources, transaction etc. deterritorializing role would be played by factors like technology revolution, updating trend, resource shortage etc. personally, I think this example well presented the role that various components performed in different axis within a networked societies.

To sum up, each networked societies act as components to consist a society as a whole. It works under the theory updating social complexities and human-beings themselves. Individuals perform consciously or subconsciously within the parameters of the societies and ongoing variables.


“A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity”,

Callon M. 1986, “Some Elements of a Sociology of Translation: Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of St Brieuc Bay.” In John Law (ed.), Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul)

Law J. 1992, “Notes on the Theory of the Actor Network: Ordering, Strategy, and Heterogeneity.”



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