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A Critical Review of Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and Its Use in Education Research

A Critical Review of Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and Its Use in Education Research
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Author(s): Denise Mifsud (Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Educational Research, Malta)
Copyright: 2020
Pages: 22
Source title: Handbook of Research on Social and Organizational Dynamics in the Digital Era
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Efosa C. Idemudia (Arkansas Tech University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8933-4.ch007


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This chapter, which expands on a previous publication, presents a critique of actor-network theory as a sociomaterial concept. Furthermore, the author problematizes the relative under-application of this “sensibility” in education research, while simultaneously exploring its contribution as an analytical framework through its central concepts of “actor-network,” “symmetry,” “translation,” and their constituents. This chapter zooms on the concepts of networks and power relations. The author questions the prevalent notion of the “network” metaphor promulgated by globalization discourses, setting it up against the network conception in actor-network theory, where the main principle is multiplicity. Actor-network theory is analyzed as a theory of the mechanics of power, concerning itself with the setting up of hegemony. This chapter is especially targeted for researchers of education reform who are as yet unfamiliar with the concepts of Actor-Network Theory and somewhat wary of the validity of sociomaterialism in the analysis of education issues.

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