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ARTS2090 Wk4: Assemblage & Actor-Network Theory (ANT) March 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Winnie Ho @ 12:24 pm
Tags: , , ,

With the broad spectrum of media and publishing that is undergoing changes, a single simple theoretical framework to cover it all is just impossible.

Theories not only attempt to analyse and rationalise, they may also evoke influences to the actual subject matter itself. Previously in Year 1 media courses, the focus in media theory tends to be more on the social side, i.e. how media is present in our everyday lives and how do we be ‘media literate’. Nevertheless, both assemblage theory (Manuel De Landa) and actor-network theory (Bruno Latour) embody both society and technologies, which frames media into conceptual models and picking apart what really makes up the mediascape.

These two broad complex theories allows us pin down some core elements, human/non-human actants and relations within the mediascape (the system or network). What I cannot quite resolve is that assemblage theory states that there are assemblages within assemblages and assemblages made of other assemblages; yet, actor-network theory rejects divides of networks, meaning that there are no external forces, elements or relations that affect the internal continuation of the network. Another problem with the actor-network theory:  it theorises all actants in the network to be equal and engaging with other actants in reliance with relations. Even in the most neoliberal modes of publishing, there may not be a clear-cut top-down hierarchy but still exists prioritising the importance of various actants, in addition to interactions with other modes of publishing. Thus, I am not entirely convinced with using the actor-network theory as a theoretical framework for structures in media.

Winnie Ho (3292568)

REFERENCES:

‘Actor Network Theory’, Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actor-network_theory>

‘Actor Network Rochambeau’, any-space-whatever blog, <http://www.anyspacewhatever.com/2010/11/actor-network-rochambeau/>, November 14, 2010

‘A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity’, Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_New_Philosophy_of_Society:_Assemblage_Theory_and_Social_Complexity>

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