Welcome to the "What have the ANTs ever done for us? Packing your cases to follow the actors..." discussion!


Hi mary,

Thanks for posting - and welcome to the weird, hopefully wonderful, often counter-intuitive but usually fun world of ANT!
i’m late to my own party as " all the links in the chains that connect you to the message above in order to reply? What are those links dependent on and enmeshed in?’ we’re forcibly broken till today.

So for me “the material” has displayed it’s agency all to clearly!

There’s quite a rich area of work around professional education with a material semiotic aspect from Tara Fenwick and colleagues such as Terrie-Lynn Thompson, and Richard Edwards via ProPEL at Stirling if you know that at all?

E.G. “Sociomaterial approaches to understanding and researching learning in work”
Special issue: Reconceptualising professional learning in a changing society, Journal of Education and Work, 26 (1) http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13639080.2012.644901


hi Mikala,

A rather belated welcome as the “links in the chains that connect you to the message above in order to reply? What are those links dependent on and enmeshed in?” all got very broken and made their presence and agency felt forcibly for me.

You sound like you’ve already been bitten by the ANTs - thanks for posting and hope their still time to discuss further.



hi Ian,

Thanks for posting - and I hope yu find the discussions interesting.

You (and you are far from alone here) refer to ANT as “a lens” asking

“How will it work with the other mirrors and prisms which reflect and refract the light (information) issuing from my object of study? Will the magnification be adequate, does it provide sufficient depth of field and will I be able to adjust the focus?”

This is a common way of fitting ANT in with other approaches, methods and theories.

But… is that appropriate?

I’ve always felt this is somehow anathema to the ideas and spirit of the originators of ANT who wanted to much more fundamentally shift sociology. To me making it “one lens among may” is to fall into the sort of perspectivalism it set out to respecify ad challenge.

Perspectivalism, as I understand it from John Law’s “After method” is the idea that there are lots of different ‘lenses’ to view “the same” object which will be seen in slightly different ays or reveal different properties of it. But if you see methods as performative then they are not so much lenses as crucibles and casts that create potentially fundamentally different things from their mixtures, rather than offering a different view of something offering the idea of triangulation. It challenges the blind men and the elephant parable… (Bit I’m not sure how to work that out right now!)

Discuss - maybe?


Thanks Chris - this chimes well with my earlier reply about “perspectivalism” and treating ANT as “a lens”…

A focus on what people are doing (now) with ANT is also welcome… And one I’ll pick up on soon.

The warmth of the seat got a little dampened down though - but perhaps helped literally illustrate the importance of the material and it’s taken-for-granted nature in networked learning…


Thanks for that provocation. I’m grateful for any insights which suggest my limited understandings might be awry.
Just checked our Library to find that ‘After Methods’ is currently out on loan. Darn! However, have managed to download a related paper and have the additional material Chris provided.
‘Crucibles and casts’ certainly offer a very different … errm … perspective! I see what you’re saying, but need to read a little more and think a lot more now to process that idea into something more tangible.

I’ll be back!

Thanks again.


Thanks for the link to this paper Chris; as I mentioned to Steve, ‘After Methods’ currently out on loan from our library (maybe I need to find out who has it and get together with them!)

It may be that you have opened a can of worms, but in so doing, you’ve certainly realigned my thinking, for which I’m grateful. I now need to use the text you kindly provided and anything else I can find, to resolve my new-found dissonance.

Much appreciated,


Shoot me your email.


I’m cbigum@gmail.com


It is interesting over our scheduled week together that as @stevewright was facing power issues, I was starting a new job. Funny how those external (to us?) elements of our networks influence how we have time, or ability, or focus, or what have you. While our week is formally over, I am still reading and processing all this, and really want to thank Steve for his leading our conversations as they all started, and will continue, in the same way networks ebb and flow.

I think these simple examples are useful when trying to explain how actor-network theory is not only a post structural mess of word games (something I have heard leveled at it given its complexity of language).



It will be interesting to see what you think about Law’s After Method, @IaninSheffield.



Have just completed the introduction so far; first read-through only.
I’ll be interested to see if I can ‘sell’ the notion of arriving at anything less than “a more or less stable conclusion about the way things really are” (p9) to a research approval committee. Or, given the timeline I’m committed to, whether I have the time to conduct a “slow and uncertain” method.

I am looking forward however to reading more about how our methods “produce the reality they understand.” That sort of thinking is a real challenge for someone with my background … but all the more appealing because of that.



Grateful to both @stevewright and @cj13 for (independently) recommending this text.

In a meeting yesterday with my Director of Studies, completely unprompted, he suggested that it might be beneficial to my studies if I can come to terms with the ideas in After Methods.
I’ll take that as a sign :wink:



You’ll find his papers worth collecting as well. Steve may have mentioned his site which is not a bad place to start. The book will keep you busy for a wee while. :slight_smile: Good luck. These thnigs always work better if you can gather a or locate a small group with the same interest. The ANT FB group is very generous and supportive too.


Thanks again Chris.
Have been a member of the FB group for a while, but suspect I might be likely to become more ‘active’ in the near future.


I wonder what (if any?) ANT things those here in our networked learning community are working on? I suppose this musing is coming from the sense that there are 3-4 authors who are frequently quoted or referred to when we are talking ANT (Latour, Law, Callon, etc.) with a couple works, and then a few current authors (Fenwick, etc.), and am trying to envision the horizon…