Actor-network theory, often abbreviated as ANT , or sociology of translation , is an approach within the social science that analyzes social phenomena as (social) networks where the classic opposition between active people and passive objects in doubt drawn. One of the best-known propositions is therefore that non-human elements can also possess a form of agency (action potential) within a network. That is why the term 'actant' is also used as a more neutral collective term for all these actors. Furthermore, the approach can also be described as a 'material semiotic'' method, which focuses on relations that are simultaneously material, namely between things, and semiotic, namely between concepts , in nature.
The actor network theory has its origins within Science and Technology Studies (STS) in the work of authors such as Michel Callon , Bruno Latour and John Law . Other related authors are Madeleine Akrich , Annemarie Mol , Arie Rip , Wiebe Bijker and Andrew Pickering . As an approach, it strongly opposes both classical sociology and contemporary critical sociology. The approach has an affinity with constructivism because the essentialistrejects statements. For example, within the field of science, it will say that a theory is successful not because it is "true" or has a grip on the real nature of things, but because it succeeds in a whole range of elements (people, things, concepts) mobilize in a particular formation. It is further inspired by poststructuralism (with authors such as Michel Foucault or Gilles Deleuze ), the "strong program" within the sociology of science of Barry Barnes and David Bloor , the work of Gabriel Tarde , the ethnomethodology and philosophy of Michel Serres .
Since 2000, a number of authors working in Actor-network theory, such as Callon, Law and Donald MacKenzie , have also made a link with the notion of the performativity of knowledge. This refers to the fact that knowledge does not simply establish facts, but actively co-produces these facts. For example, authors such as Callon and MacKenzie have studied this to a great extent in the field of economics : economists do not simply establish economic reality, but also produce economic reality through their theories.