Obligatory Passage Point for 21st Century Social Theory: Action Theory of Bruno Latour
Kim Hong Jung | Seoul National University
In this article I argue that the actor-network theory of Latour constitutes the obligatory passage point for 21st century social theory, focusing on Latour’s theory of action. In sharp contrast with 20th century mainstream sociological theory of action premised on the rational human actor and his agency, Latour boldly reassembles the action theory from the viewpoint of assemblage ontology. Latourian actor is semiotic actant and Whiteheadian proposition at the same time, which allowed him to encompass the nonhuman actors as the members of the society and also to conceptualize the society as an open-ended associations under dynamic changes. Latour’s concept of action can be characterized by its relatedness, eventfulness, and distributedness. Analyzing each of these, I examine in what points Latour’s action theory helps us rethink the meaning of action in 21st century.
actor-network theory, assemblage, actant, Whitehead, proposition, pati-agent
Society and Theory