“What seems to be Technical, is partly Social; and what seems to be Social, is partly technical” (Delukie, 2009)
The relationship between publishing and publics is a balanced equilibrium, where they are both the actants of changes and shifts in our society. However it is not as simple as it is made to sound, as there is a complex assemblage between both publishing and media. There is much debate to whether it is the social or technical factors that have been the ongoing agents of the changes in publishing networks. To avoid a ‘which came first the chicken or the egg’ situation, the Actor-Network Theory suggested by Bruno LaTour et al. attempts to use a sociological theory to explain it all.
To condense and summarise here is a short but concise “For Dummies” A.N.T video
The video delves deeper into the theory defining all factors , whether it be animate or inanimate, to have some contribution into the network that it exists in. This is known as the Principle of generalised symmetry. The A.N.T is a rather inclusive theory that associates all factors as a actant with a same degree of agency, it integrates it all to the same conceptual framework.
Looking back into the relationship between publics and publishing, we can see that it coexists in somewhat of a heterogeneous network like the Actor-Network theory. From the moment you purchase a book, all the factors from the pages, the buyer, the cashier, the seller and even the bookstore are considered as an equal agency. One without the other will cause a disorder in our structured actor network between the publisher and the buyer.
What I can take away from the Actor-Network theory , in the attempt to understanding more about the assemblages between publics and publishing is to look at it from a different perspective. Where each and every factor plays a part to form the relationships between publishing and the social.
1. Delukie 2009, Khaki Films, ‘Actor-Network Theory In Plain English’, YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2YYxS6D-mI, accessed 25 March 2013
2. Wade, 2005, ‘Actor-Network Theory’, York University, http://www.istheory.yorku.ca/actornetworktheory.htm, accessed 25 March 2013