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Well there's an interesting question!  Since you seen to want a
challenging diss project, you might consider solving the
Israeli/Palestinian thing instead.  It would be a much more tractable
problem ;-)

Your pattern-recognizer has picked up a valuable insight I think, but it
would be a mistake (IMHO) to use it to try and integrate the named
perspectives.  First, it is easy to take two or three of the
perspectives and find points (like this) where they appear to agree.  On
closer examination you often find that there are important differences
in how they conceptualize what they are naming with the words.  For
example, structuration theory and actor network theory both agree that
agents and agency are crucial, but structuration says only humans can be
agents and whereas actor network theory allows inanimate things to have
agency.  So when you get to the level of details, you find that these
perspectives really do differ in important ways.  Second, if you try to
integrate these perspectives you will sink immediately into the
paradigms quagmire, wherein there is debate about whether it is possible
or desirable to do the kind if integrating you propose (For example see
Jackson & Carter, 1991, In defense of paradigm incommensurability,
Organization Studies, 12, 109-127).

Instead of synthesizing the perspectives, why not take your insight
about this common relational thread and develop a new idea that
transcends some of their limitations?

Good luck!

Steve



-----Original Message-----
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Paul B Hartzog
Sent: Wednesday, August 18, 2004 2:38 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [SOCNET] Multitudinousness

*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.sfu.ca/~insna/  *****

I have a serious question:

As a scholar looking at spending the next 6 years doing my Ph.D.s, I'm
trying to figure out where to focus exactly, and I'm finding that many
people are saying the same things in different disciplines (sometimes in
the same disciplines) and yet calling it by different names.

For ex:

Actor/Network theory
Relational ontology
constructivism
structuration theory
post-structuralism
post-modernism
etc.

Now I know I'm conflating some of the distinctions between these
arguably sub-fields.

"Actor network theory is a ruthless application of semiotics.  It tells
that entities take their form and acquire their attributes as a result
of their relations with other entities."

and from Constructivism

"Agents and structures are co-constituted by their relationships."

I really could go on, but I won't

My question is this:

Is anybody making any attempt to synthesize all of these various
perspectives?  I'd be happy to do it ;-)

thx much,
-Paul

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