Sreela Sarkar | Perspectives on Global Development and Technology
The aim of this article is to examine the potential of Actor–Network Theory as a nonhuman social science theory through critical readings of Bruno Latour’s empirical studies. In previous studies on ANT, an important issue has been to categorize it in regard to the type of theory it represents. Following Latour’s description of ANT as an “infra-theory” or “infra-language,” this article deals with the question of the relationship of those two terms to ANT. To examine these concepts, we will review two of Latour’s case studies: the historical study on Louis Pasteur’s eradication of anthrax and the ethnography on the failure of the automated train operation system of the Paris metro. After exploring these cases, we conclude that ANT is a theory not for causal explanation but for the discovery of hidden factors.