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> I have tried to make a contribution to this line of
> argumentation in my
> book on 'business networks: strategy and structure', but Loet's
> suggestion to look at actor-network theory as a starting point (and
> perhaps to embrace some of their conceptual apparatus) is
> very relevant.
Dear Emanuela and colleagues,
In the Netherlands, we have a princess of the royal family who claims to
talk to the trees. The trees seem to tell her and each other interesting
Let us distinguish various options:
1. As an analyst, one can make a clear distinction between human and
non-human communication in terms of intentionality and meaning-processing
following the sociological tradition (Mead, Husserl, Schutz, Berger &
2. From this perspective, the non-human elements can impact on the
inter-human communication (e.g., object (libidonous) relations; symbolic
value of objects).
3. One can follow Latour and deny a difference between human and non-human
actants. The specifically human condition of communication (intentionality)
is then not considered relevant and the social network analysis would not
be different from other (e.g., biological) network analysis.
In my opinion, the latter approach confuses the formal approach (which
abstracts from substance in the relations) with an encompassing approach
which claims heterogenous substance without specifying this heterogeneity.
The more formalized approach enables us to use concepts at one level
heuristically at another. For example, one can raise the question of what
could one win theoretically by assuming that the trees would tell each other
With best wishes,
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