THE ‘ACTOR-NETWORK THEORY’

The phrase ‘actor-network theory’ may be perceived as something very academic and technical jargon. In fact, this theory is applied very often in our normal lives, and those applications can be illustrated through many straightforward examples. The theory simply aims to explain the relations of individual components in a system and how they combine together to make that system works as a whole. According to this definition, each of us can be a practical illustration for this theory.  An individual can be classified as an ‘actor’ in the network called ‘human society’.  We act independently as each person has different roles in this system. Nevertheless, our actions are all related because we have the same goal that is to make this system works well. To survive, those relations must be performed repeatedly (i.e. we must continue to perform our own tasks and liaise with others), else this human society will no longer exist. In this network, each individual is viewed equally because everyone has the same rights and obligations as a person. Also as acknowledged by the theory, conflicts will naturally arise, and that is where arguments, crimes emerge. Those elements join together to create a whole network of human society. Thus, our real life is a live sample of the ‘actor-network’ theory.

On the other hand, ‘imagined’ societies (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc) are also proofs of this theory. The interactions in those societies involve users, the site’s administrators, their ideas, and technologies (ex computers, modems, routers, hard-drives, softwares, etc). As long as users are able to have Internet access, they are treated equally as the same terms and conditions must be agreed by each of them before utilizing the service. For a particular network to keep operating, their members must actively participate. They must be continuously publishing on those sites. Example of collapses of an Internet social network would include the launch of Yahoo! 360 in which it is unsuccessfully attract members to join and to make publishing on their sites. Conflicts will occur when the administrators must intervene to ban or remove some members’ published works because they may be violating the site’s terms, copyrights, or containing sexual contents etc. Again, all the above components mix together and creates a whole society though it does not physically exist in real life. In conclusion, the theory of ‘actor-network’ does not only fit well in real life examples but also for those appear ‘on-screen’

Reference

‘Actor Network Theory’, Wikipedia, accessed March 16 2011<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actor-network_theory>

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