The Unofficial Student Site

Bruno Latour

“It is no longer clear whether there exists relations that are specific enough to be called ‘social’ and that could be grouped together in making up a special domain that could function as ‘a society.’ The social seems to be diluted everywhere and yet nowhere in particular. So, neither science nor society has remained stable enough to deliver the promises of a strong ‘socio-logy.'”







Latour suggests redefining sociology not as the ‘science of the social’, but as the tracing of associations. 

Then ‘social’ refers to the relationship between things that are not themselves social.  

“We” are the every changing ties that hold the self object and the you object together. 

There is NOT a social thing, domain, or realm.



“… it is visible only by the traces it leaves (under trials) when a new association is being produced between elements which themselves are in no way ‘social.'”



Reassembling the social…  ‘sociology of associations’ as opposed to the ‘sociology of the social’












“It is no longer enough to limit actors to the role of informers offering cases of some well-known types. You have to grant them back the ability to make up their own theories of what the social is made of.

Your task is no longer to impose some order, to limit the range of acceptable entities, to teach actors what they are, or to add some reflexivity to their blind practice.

Using a slogan from ANT, you have ‘to follow the actors themselves’, that is to try to catch up with their often wild innovations in order to learn from them what the collective existence has become in their hands, which methods they have elaborated to make it fit together, which accounts could best define the new associations that they been forced to establish. If the sociology of the social works fine with what has already been assembled, it does not work so well to collect anew the participants and what is not– not yet–a sort of social realm.”













On academic writing…


As soon the site is placed ‘into a framework’, everything becomes rational much too fast and explanations begin to flow much too freely. The danger is all the greater because this is the moment most often chosen by critical sociology, always lurking in the background, to take over social explanations and replace the objects to be accounted for with irrelevant, all-purpose ‘social forces’ actors that are too dumb to see or can’t stand to be revealed. Much like ‘safe sex’, sticking to description protects against the transmission of explanations… The name of the game is not reduction, but irreduction. (p. 137)