Volume 15 Oktober 2017

Tenna Jensen og Astrid Pernille Jespersen

In this issue of Academic Quarter, we focus on the network approach. Throughout the past 40 years the network perspective seem to have become the go-to analytical approach that emphasizes relation-making processes and descriptions of how phenomena come into being within the social sciences and the humanities. With this issue we want to engage in a discussion of the appropriateness and relevance of the network approach, and to ask; what do we (still) gain by applying a network perspective? The call for the issue invited contributions from the humanities and the social sciences. Resultantly the issue now, fortunately, contains nine articles from a range of scholarly fields. The different approaches to the concept, theories and methodologies of network(s) inherent in this issue show how thinking in networks, infrastructures, agents and actors still function as a productive scholarly perspective that enables new insights into the interplay between humans and technology, the individual and the collective and societal reproduction and change.

Download hele nummeret PDF    Introduktion PDF
Download hele nummeret epub    Introduktion epub

Unscrewing social media networks, twice
Andreas Birkbak

Social media are often claimed to be an important new force in pol- itics. One way to investigate such a claim is to follow an early call made in actor-network theory (ANT) to “unscrew” those entities that are assumed to be important and show how they are made up of heterogeneous networks of many different actors (Callon and Latour 1981). In this article I take steps towards unscrewing seven Facebook pages that were used to mobilize citizens for and against road pricing in Copenhagen in 2011-2012. But I encounter the diffi- culty that social media are already explicitly understood in Internet Studies and beyond as facilitating processes where many actors are united despite their differences into some kind of larger force, as expressed in concepts such as the “networked public sphere” (boyd 2010; Ito 2008). This challenges the usefulness of ANT, I argue, because the notion of network is so vague that it can be combined with liberal notions of a singular public sphere (Somers 1995b; 1995a). In order to unscrew social media as a political force, I sug- gest that we need to work through both the assembling of social media networks and attend to corresponding reconstructions of liberal political narratives. As such, I argue for the need to unscrew social media twice, and I take this as an occasion to deal with some of the limitations of ANT when it comes to digital media.

Download PDF    epub

Reassembling surveillance creep
Ask Risom Bøge og Peter Lauritsen

We live in societies in which surveillance technologies are constantly introduced, are transformed, and spread to new practices for new purposes. How and why does this happen? In other words, why does surveillance “creep”? This question has received little attention either in theoretical development or in empirical analyses. Accordingly, this article contributes by demonstrating how Actor-Network Theory (ANT) can advance our understanding of ‘surveillance creep’. Based on ANT’s model of translation and a historical study of the Danish DNA database, we argue that surveillance creep involves reassembling the relations in surveillance networks between heterogeneous actors such as the watchers, the watched, laws, and technologies. Second, surveillance creeps only when these heterogeneous actors are adequately interested and aligned. However, obtaining and maintaining such alignment may be difficult.

Download PDF    epub

Visualising Historical Networks. Family Trees and Wikipedia
Henriette Roued-Cunliffe

This article situates itself within the growing field of digital heritage and will explore methods for digital representation of historical network. This includes a social family network as it is typically presented in a genealogical structure, consisting of all family members, as well as a network created by hyperlinks and linked data on Wikipedia. It uses the family tree of the Drachmann family in 19th century Copenhagen as a case to explore and compare these networks in a digital framework. It will use the potential conflicts between Actor-Network Theory and Feminist Theory to frame this discussion.

Download PDF    epub

The Photograph as Network. Tracing – Disentangling – Relating:ANT as a Methodology in Visual Culture Studies
Frauke Wiegand

Inspired by actor-network theory (ANT), this article develops a theoretical framework for grasping the dynamic visual work of cultural memory. It introduces three sensitizing concepts derived from Latourian actor-network methodology, namely entanglement, relationality, and traceability, operationalizing them as methodological tools for reading the net-work of images. The objects of study are two visitor snapshots of the photographic exhibition, The Story of Soweto, at the famous Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, South Africa. I demonstrate that, when slightly adjusted for research engaging with visual materials, Latourian concepts are indeed productive for analyzing visual material and visual practices at memorial sites.

Download PDF    epub

“Here comes my son!”.
On the underlying invisible work and infrastructure of a telepresence robot in a Danish nursing home
Marie Anna Svendsen og Astrid Pernille Jespersen

The article uncovers the formation of an infrastructure made to facilitate the implementation of a telepresence robot in a Danish nursing home. Ethnographic fieldwork data illuminates how myriad of human and non-human actors, such as supporters, Wi-Fi networks, care workers and cameras, work together as a hybrid, socio-technical collective. This collective constantly coordinates and improvises in a joint effort to construct, maintain and stabilise the flexible infrastructure, which facilitates the implementation of the new communication technology in the daily routines of staff and residents at the nursing home. The main argument of the article is that implementation of new technology is dependent on large amounts of work on the part of both of human and technical actors. Much of this work is normally invisible to and lack acknowledgment by decision makers. Thus, the article argues that a focus on infrastructure proves crucial in the uncovering of otherwise invisible work processes.

Download PDF    epub

Reconnection work.
A network approach to households’ dealing with ICT breakdowns
Nina Heidenstrøm og Ardis Storm-Mathisen

How can the concept of networks contribute to understanding the role of households in crises where ICT infrastructure fail? ICT infrastructures are large-scale techno-material networks crucial to modern human social organisation and living. They play a role in connecting individuals to households and individuals and households to their wider surroundings. Drawing on fieldwork from a recent crisis in Norway, this article uses actor-network theory (ANT) as an analytical lens. The aim is twofold; firstly to show the effect of an ICT infrastructure breakdown on the concerns of households as a socio-material network, and secondly to suggest how these networks reconnect and are stabilised at a household level through strategies where people mobilise actants such as cars and intact pieces of ICT to establish new temporal associations of actor-networks.

Download PDF    epub

Networks of expertise: an example from process consulting
Kasper Elmholdt og Claus Elmholdt

In this paper, we explore how expertise is configured and enacted in consultancy work in public sector organizations. By drawing on recent writings on a sociology of expertise, we analyse expertise as a distributed performative actor-network effect. Through an empirical example from a process consultancy assignment in a hospital, we discern four modes of practice by which a network of expertise comes to work. Firstly, we explore a mode of extending a network of expertise to include more allies. Secondly, we observe a mode of activation where certain parts of the network are made active and present. Thirdly, we explore a mode of brokering between top management ambitions and the everyday medical practice. Fourthly, we see a mode of altering the content of the consultancy process to make it work with the client. Through this analysis, we move beyond viewing expertise as either an attribute to, or a substantial skill of the consultant and advance a heterogeneous social understanding of expertise in consultancy work.

Download PDF    epub

Social Reproduction and Political Change in The Wire
Mikkel Jensen

This paper examines a core tension in the political television serial The Wire (2002-2008). While several critics have argued that this show is both “bleak” and “systemic”  in its portrayal of contemporary society, this paper argues that it is useful to understand these textual elements as building blocks in The Wire’s attempt to create a coherent and consistent political argument. The paper argues that had The Wire been structured as a more uplifting and redeeming story, the systemic nature of its societal criticism would be undercut and the show would not embrace the logical consequence of the politics it espouses.

Download PDF    epub

Networks as a case of distributed cognition
Bo Allesøe

Within the development of recent theories of epistemologies, notions of situated, embodied, extended and distributed cognition has been objects of study. Cognition is here seen as instantiated within different relationships, or networks, obtaining among humans and the world. However, what is shared by participating in a network is seldom addressed. This article will analyse and sketch the possibility of understanding a cognitive network, exemplified by a crime scene investigation, involving shared cognition understood as distributive ampliative cognition.

Download PDF    epub